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Riverfront Park to take first big step on Tuesday

One of the largest projects to take off in Selma in years will begin to see fruition Tuesday when officials turn the dirt on the city’s Riverfront Park.

The groundbreaking ceremony will feature Don Vaughan, chief engineer and deputy director of the Alabama Department of Transportation. A Transportation Enhancement Grant through the Department of Transportation will pay for 80 percent of the estimated $340,000 cost to finish the first phase of this project. The city of Selma will pay the other 20 percent.

The project’s first phase will see construction of about 2,300 linear feet of a 10-foot wide concrete path, a 50-foot timber bridge and two overlooks adjacent to the Alabama River.

Selma Mayor George Evans said, “The city of Selma has been fortunate to have supported partners who have helped tremendously with their time, energy and expertise and we are eternally grateful.”

The groundbreaking will begin at 10 a.m. near Green Street. Parking is available on Water Avenue.

The Selma City Council unanimously approved recently expenses not to exceed $2,000 from the tourism portion of the budget to pay for the groundbreaking. The tourism budget contains $2,755.76.

Community Planning and Development Director Charlotte Griffeth said the money would be used for invitations, souvenir fans, the programs, tent rental and refreshments.

“Most of it will go to the printing, food and refreshment, rental of the tent, and the sound system and things like that,” she said.

Council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw called the groundbreaking, “a great event for us. This is a time that says that now we’ve got to make some of the changes that we needed to make and I’m glad it started here.”

Tuesday is the beginning.

Plans for the 12-acre park call for a triangular shaped site with the thinnest point directed west, near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, widening as the property extends to Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

Other planned park features include a floating boat dock, a carousel and an interactive fountain.

Gresham, Smith and Partners completed the master plan for the proposed project in 2009.