Column/City council could do more

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2007

This past Monday, citizens of Selma witnessed a disturbing city council meeting.I won’t rehash all the details here, but several council members expressed their embarrassment at the incident that took place.

In a nutshell, the meeting had to be adjourned because of disruptive behavior. While thinking about the events that took place, I wondered how much more could be accomplished by our elected officials if they didn’t spend half of their meeting arguing petty points.

I realize, of course, that every community has its issues.

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There is not one that is perfect. Most have combative issues within their city or county governments.

But, do most city governments accomplish more than ours?

Do they handle their issues in a more productive manner?

I thought I’d check.

& In Asheville, N.C., city officials and staff are preparing to battle it out in a different way this Sunday – in the Pepsi Mayor’s Cup Raft Race on the French Broad River, according to the Asheville Citizens-Times. Wait a second, don’t we have a river?

& On Thursday, the Ithaca, N.Y. Downtown Partnership and the city of Ithaca held a street party to celebrate the re-opening of a street.

It seems the street had been closed in late spring to allow city crews to replace aging water and sewer pipes. While it was closed, merchants along the street, which is a “Restaurant Row,” requested the sidewalk be widened to allow more pedestrian traffic and outside table seating.

So the city is commemorating the re-opening with a free block party, complete with live music, magicians, jugglers, stilt walkers and a caricature artist, according to the Ithaca Journal.

& In Ocean Springs, Miss., the Board of Aldermen appointed members to its selection committee for a Front Beach Master Plan. This is a city that is rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and is seeking to rebuild with more controlled, planned growth.

These are small things, not major actions taken on by these city councils.

And this is not meant to insinuate that the Selma City Council never accomplishes anything. Of course they do.

But there is so much more that could be done. In a random, quick survey, here’s a few items that were mentioned that our city leaders could tackle:


Designated parking for the tour buses that arrive daily on Water Avenue and park on the street. These buses bring hundreds of tourists here each week to visit the National Voting Rights Museum.

& More public parking downtown. This could be done in a nice, decorative way with plantings and wrought iron fences.

& No funds for more public parking? How about spending a little on vintage-looking signs that designate “Public Parking” areas. This would make it easier for tourists, as well as residents to find a place to park.

& More green space.

& Widening sidewalks, and in some areas, building sidewalks.

& Aggressively pursue bringing a multi-plex movie theater to the area.

& Cleaning up its streets (including fallen buildings).

These are just a few suggestions, surely citizens have more. The point is, not much can be accomplished – not even the small things – if there is constant bickering within the council.

Tammy Leytham

is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.