Growth needs to be planned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2006

At the newspaper, our primary goal is

to be objective. That means walking a tight rope.

Someone will call complaining we don’t have enough “good” news in the paper. The same day someone else will call complaining we’re not covering enough “crime.”

Email newsletter signup

If we do run a big crime story, we will no doubt have someone cancel their subscription because of it.

It’s the nature of the business.

Being a newcomer to Selma, and some could accurately call me an outsider, I’ve observed some things.

I believe folks in Selma – and Dallas County for that matter – have become so accustomed to being in an economically deprived and depressed area, that they’ve gotten used to the “negative” news.

They say they don’t want to read it, but when we have a big crime story on our front page, we’ll sell out of newspapers in every rack in town.

We’ve gotten used to focusing on what we don’t have, as opposed to what we do have.

I’ve written columns since I’ve been here pointing out what progressive communities offer their residents, things such as pedestrian-friendly streets, a coffee house, art museum, bookstores, etc.

I still say these are some things Selma needs.

But, we also have a lot of amenities that get overlooked. The area around Selma is beautiful – rolling hills, plenty of green space and a river that runs right through it all. Selma is beautiful as well with its historic homes and businesses.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m from the Alabama Gulf Coast. And I love it. It’s home to me.

Many folks from here go down there on vacation.

But, believe it or not, there are people in Baldwin County who are counting the days until they can retire to Clarke, Washington or Wilcox counties.

Talk to them and they’ll complain about the traffic, about the unchecked development, and about “another new restaurant.”

There are four multiplex theaters in Baldwin County, and probably another yet to come in Malbis.

What’s happening in Orange Beach with new developments like The Wharf or Riverwalk makes longtime local residents literally sick.

Sure, it looks like a lot of money’s flowing down there, and certainly a lot is being spent.

But like anywhere else, the money goes into the pockets of a handful of developers – most of whom are not local residents.

So, you still say you’ll take the development over being stagnant?

I think what we need is some planned development. A comprehensive plan that outlines some of the things local residents want, without infringing on the rural aesthetics of the area, or the historic integrity of downtown.

It’s time for city and county leaders to bring some residents to the table and discuss what type of community they want in the future, and make sure it benefits everyone.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Times-Journal.