Center will add much to Selma

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 12, 2008

The issue: Phase I of the stabilization plan for the interpretive center is about to begin.

Our position: This will help enhance our downtown.

Certainly, the coming of the Selma Interpretive Center has been long anticipated.

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It&8217;s closer to fruition now.

Monday night, Community Development Director Charlotte Griffeth told the Selma City Council the roofing project is due to begin soon.

Truly, this building on the corner of Broad Street and Water Avenue marks the work of many, including the current city administration.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. has traveled to Washington several times to prime the governmental financial pump for funds to help with construction and rehabilitation of the site.

Earlier this year, Sen. Richard Shelby wrote the mayor a letter saying that he would support any effort to complete the Selma to Montgomery National Historical Trail, starting with the Selma Interpretive Center.

This center is important to telling our history to the rest of the world.

In his letter to the mayor, Shelby succinctly wrote of the importance of the center, saying, &8220;While our nation has made great progress since the days of the march from Selma to Montgomery, there is more to do. Completion of the trail will provide visitors from around the world, as well as those visiting from here at home, the history and perspective necessary to ensure we never reverse course.&8221;

Shelby isn&8217;t the only member of the state&8217;s congressional delegation to give support to the project.

Congressman Artur Davis has provided a $500,000 grant through the National Park Service.

The city will use this grant after the National Park Service and the city sign an agreement to complete stabilization and environmental work on the site.

The National Park Service Centennial Fund will provide another $7 million for the $20 million project.

The Alabama Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration will disburse the $325,000 to see the roofing project completed.

That&8217;s next.

Cooper Brothers Construction Co. of Selma received the contract to repair the roof, which Griffeth said is the first phase of stabilization.

Within a decade, the project is expected to be completed. That means an entire city block of Selma will have a building complete with parking, theater and memories of an era long gone, but hardly forgotten.

While the planning has been on the table at least seven years, it will be good to see some construction work beginning on the corner at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.