Beautifying Selma’s gateway

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The City of Selma and Dallas County officials are working hard to make visitors’ first impression of Selma a positive one.

The beautification project that covers the area of Highway 80 from Craig Field to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge has been ongoing.

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Trees, flowers and shrubbery have been planted along the sides of the road and the medians in efforts to improve the aesthetics of the area.

“It has been a successful project

as far as the benefits the city will eventually derive from it,” said Patti Sexton of the Office of Planning and Development, City of Selma.

The project was able to be realized through a Transportation Enhancement Grant acquired about four years ago, according to Sexton.

“The project was planted and the project was completed,” said Sexton.

“The contractor had a year of maintenance, which he did, but there are some plants that are going to have to be replaced and removed and new ones will be put in, but those will come in the fall because of the heat and the drought conditions that we’ve had.”

According to Sexton and Dallas County Commissioner Connell Towns, the funds from the grant have been exhausted, so any work that’s being done at this stage is strictly maintenance.

“The county actually now has the overseeing of the maintenance in conjunction with the city,” said Sexton.

“The city was the main partner for leading all of the agencies for getting the beautification project done, then the maintenance of the project after the first year shifted to the county with everybody doing their part.”

The “everybody”doesn’t just include officials. Business owners and citizens are asked to play a part in the project.

Business owners are asked to keep their lots up – or fix them up – as well.

“(We’re trying) to work with the businesses along Highway 80 to try to beautify their businesses,” said Towns.

Towns said business owners can improve their property by “keeping the grass cut, planting some beautiful shrubbery around the front of their building or some of the buildings may need painting.”

“Whatever it takes to get it beautified.”

Citizens are encouraged to do their part to keep the city.

“We still need to teach ourselves to be neater, cleaner citizens,” said Sexton.

“We can send a crew everyday to come and pick up, but if people are still going to throw it down, it isn’t going to do any good.”

Overall, both Sexton and Towns say they have received positive feedback from the community about the project.

“I have gotten some great feedback from different ones that live in the community,” said Towns.

“They’re saying that it’s beautiful and that this side has never looked as great as it looks now and that they’re very pleased with what has been done so far.”

Although the concentration is on the Highway 80 gateway, Sexton says as opportunity presents itself, other gateways will undergo a makeover as well.

“If we will ever find funds to extend the project further out or to do other entrances, desirably, it would be to do other entrances at a later date,” said Sexton.

“We’re all working together in the right direction which is to attract tourism and industry into the community.”