Land info should be open

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2006

This past Tuesday night, the Selma City Council held a public forum to further discuss the proposal to purchase just over 100 acres off Highland Avenue for $1 million.

At its last council meeting, the group voted down the proposal, 5-4, citing lack of information as one of the reasons.

The public forum did indeed answer some of the questions that council members had regarding the purchase.

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However, there are still some gaps in information.

It appears the proposed purchase will be revisited at the next city council meeting, set for Nov. 13.

But, council members should make sure all information is in before they reverse their decision.

One important question that Mayor James Perkins Jr. has yet to answer is the actual purpose of buying the property. Among possible uses of the property that have been mentioned by the mayor are: a cemetery, low-income housing, a site for a new Selma High School, and, now, to “control the land for development purposes, preferably for public use.”

The land appears to be worth the $1 million purchase price, according to an appraisal. And, it’s possible that the purchase would be a good investment for the city – whether the land is used for a school or not.

But, this proposal has been mishandled from the beginning.

In addition, one of the councilmembers mentioned at the public forum that several went to the home of Larry Striplin, owner of the property in question, to discuss the purchase.

When the city is considering spending $1 million of taxpayer money, all information should be made public.

Nothing should be handled behind closed doors – all information should be open and transparent.