What a beautiful sight it would be

Published 6:47pm Saturday, November 2, 2013

Last week’s column was, admittedly, ridiculously positive.

I spoke about the beauty of Selma’s past, and the promise of it’s future. It was everything that’s me: too cheery, longwinded and pretty vague.

My apologies.

But on a walk from our offices to Side Porch Sandwiches Friday, I was shown the site where the seeds of Selma’s great future could actually be sown.

Early last month, members of Urban Studio — an Auburn University outreach program based in Birmingham — spent four days in Selma developing initial plans for two blocks of Water Avenue, beginning at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and ending at the ArtsRevive building at the intersection of Church Street.

The group, which is comprised of fourth-year and thesis-level Auburn students in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, are working in coordination with ArtsRevive on the project.

The group has presented several proposals to make the historic bridge, as well as Water Avenue, more interactive and lively. But, the proposal that excites me the most, and the one I feel would most immediately benefit the city, is the changes proposed to the Songs of Selma Park.

Songs of Selma Park sits at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and offers a great place to socialize, as well as a one-of-a-kind view of the Alabama River and the Pettus Bridge.

Times-Journal reporter Sarah Robinson has written two articles about this project, one before and one after their visit, and she was able to speak with several people involved in the project, several of whom expressed a similar interest in the Song of Selma Park.

Sarah spoke with Urban Studio member Dariel Traynom, who told her about how the group’s plans for Songs of Selma Park would increase the interaction between the public and the river.

“The way we plan to do this is to utilize the Songs of Selma Park, which is already existing. We’ll add on to it.” Traynom said. “We’ll revamp the third tier down, because it is there, you just can’t get to it. We have proposed opening that back up, not only through stairs, but a ramp that makes it ADA accessible. There is one more tier down and that’s the tier that actually connects to pedestrian bridge.”

If you haven’t walked through the park, and especially to it’s end overlooking the Alabama River, you are missing out. It offers one of the best views of the river that Selma can muster.

Not only would a revamped Songs of Selma Park benefit those looking for a nice place to congregate downtown, a clean and busy park in this location would serve as a great first sight for those entering the city over the bridge.

Currently, when one walks across the bridge, the backside of this park is largely empty and tagged with spray-paint.

Imagine coming over the bridge to see this park with tables and benches offering residents and visitors alike a place to sit, eat, talk or just take in one of Selma’s best views.

It might be wishful thinking, but this park can be one of the anchors of a new and revitalized downtown.

I know I’m not alone in thanking Urban Studio for the work they’ve already done, and I hope more people are excited to hear more from them in the near future.

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