Progress not far off for amphitheater

Published 10:34pm Friday, August 8, 2014

It’s an exciting time in Selma. It’s not because the city was named in the top ten on a real estate magazine’s ranking, but because the city is finally getting to work on a project that began years ago.

Thursday, the council was presented with three bids that were significantly over the amount set aside for the Riverfront Amphitheater. The council could have rejected bids, which would likely have further extended the completion date and jeopardized a grant funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Instead it chose to accept the lowest bid from Cooper Brothers Construction and proceed forward with a project that is over budget and far past its deadline.

To pay for the excessive amount, the council looked into its slush fund, also known as the half-cent sales tax, and found a spare $100,000.

Planning and Development Director James Benderson suggested removing a few optional items from the construction bid to lower the cost, which likely won’t affect the functionality of the amphitheater, but certainly isn’t what was initially planned.

The price also is higher than the first estimate, but at least the project is still expected to wrap up before Selma’s largest tourism events in its history begin. If the deadline pushes back any further than the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, it could cause the city to miss out on a significant economic opportunity to host major events.

It’s been months since a construction worker even came close to the proposed amphitheater and new work would be a welcomed sight.

The city council took the necessary steps to ensure a timely completion, but it’s unfortunate that initial budget estimates and timelines weren’t met, despite repeated revisions.

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