Seeing the future of Selma

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2007

It’s been talked about for the past few years, but within six months residents will be able to see a conceptual rendering of the $20 million National Park Service’s Selma Interpretive Center.

Officials from the park service were in town Thursday to look over the location at the corner of Water Avenue and Broad Street.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. told designers he would like to see it developed into “something along the lines of the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham.”

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Todd D. Alexander, U.S. Department of the Interior branch chief, design & construction, and Bonita J. Mueller, the project manager who will see the project through from concept to reality, photographed and made notes of the location.

The Lowndes County Interpretive Center is already up and running, having opened last summer. That facility is impressive and draws visitors by the busload.

Parking will be more of an issue at the Selma location, and it is something that officials are working on.

Currently, the National Voting Rights Museum draws busloads of visitors to downtown Selma. The city also boasts the Slavery Museum, the Old Depot Museum, Sturdivant Hall and the Vaughan Smitherman Museum. Once the interpretive center is open, the dilapidated corner of downtown will be transformed into a 30,000-square-foot tourist destination. With its current museums and the next addition, Selma is poised to welcome even more visitors.

Officials should plan for downtown growth by considering what makes tourist destinations attractive to travelers.

Those busloads of visitors are already looking for more to do – places to eat, shop and find out more about the region. Access to the river or a riverfront entertainment district should also be considered.