Visions coming together at workshop

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

City plans call for the Alabama River to play a major role in the aesthetics and economy of Selma.

Other members of the community have their visions, too &8212; the focus of a workshop that continues its second day at 10 a.m. today at the St. James Hotel.

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Several years ago, the city received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency&8217;s Brownfield Program to help put together plans for the future. The workshops are a portion of that grant, said Debora Love, environmental consultant for the city.

But the city didn&8217;t want just its residents to participate in the planning; it needed people from the surrounding area, Love added.

Griffeth explained, &8220;The more the planning, the more sustainable the developments are because we have buy-in from the citizens; and not just buy-in one time, but continuously as we progress in the development &8212; having them look at where we are, and what we&8217;re doing.&8221;

On Monday, participants drew their visions of what they wanted Selma to look like and the things important to them.

They discussed their visions under the direction of James Waddell, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Fran Pearce, a board member of the Dallas County Arts Alliance, said the planning fits with her organization&8217;s goals to capitalize on the good in Selma and bring people together to keep the city economically viable.

That&8217;s the purpose behind the alliance&8217;s butterfly project. The project puts artists and businesses, individuals or organizations together to paint a butterfly made locally. The alliance will display the butterflies downtown in October.

The city won&8217;t wait, either.

On Monday, the planning and development department plans to present recommendations to the Selma City Council for an engineer to begin preliminary work on a walking trail by the river, Griffeth said.

The city recently received a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to work on the project with city planners from Birmingham.

Griffeth anticipates the project will get under way within 30 to 60 days, if the council approves.