Selma City Board of Education members Dr. Kirit Chapatwala, left, and Frank Chestnut Jr. take part in the Vision To Action meeting Wednesday afternoon at the St. James. The meeting was organized by the city of Selma and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. -- Ashley Johnson

Workshops give residents a chance to share their vision

Published 6:21pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It’s not everyday city leaders and officials can be found scribbling and coloring with markers and crayons. But on Wednesday, Selma’s Office of Planning and Development hosted a Vision To Action To Achieve Sustainable Communities session, conducted by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Larry Norris, the chief redeveloper for ADEM, came to the St. James and in his vision session with the city had everyone draw with markers their vision for a specific section of the city.

“We will be supplying Selma with a finished product and that finished product will be based on something you all come up with today,” Norris said. “That finished product will just be a starting point for the city.”

After residents draw their vision for a revitalized Selma, a professional artist will draw the visions for actual projects. Six to eight of the visions will be chosen from the marker drawings this week. Norris said ADEM would actually make one of these visions a reality. The revitalization would focus on taking brownfield sites, sites that are abandoned or underused, and make them into something visually appealing as well as something functional for the city.

“It takes money, volunteering and people being on board with the vision in the end to make these a reality,” Norris said.

Participants of the vision session drew boardwalks along the Alabama River where people could fish, they drew cable cars through Old Town and community gardens in places where there were blank lots.

“People in the city will say, ‘Wow we have been doing so much planning and things are moving at a snail’s pace,’ but what I want you to do is think of this as Selma moving forward,” Selma Planning and Development director Charlotte Griffeth said. “We have so many brownfield sites that are opportunities, unique opportunities that are in our city and helping us move forward to make the city of Selma a destination place.”

Mayor George Evans said that the city of Selma can get money for these projects, but it is sometimes difficult to come by the funds when competing with bigger cities for the state monies.

“Montgomery and Birmingham just because of their size, its easier for them to come by that grant money,” Evans said and assured everyone that just by staying focused, the city can still compete against the city heavyweights — Montgomery and Birmingham in improving and getting funding. “The number of people who want to see Selma progress is far bigger than the number of people who do not.”

There will be another vision session on Thursday, Jan. 17, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the St. James Hotel. The public is invited.

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