YMCA building dangerous, but on hold

Published 5:18 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

Local developer Tom Bolton is worried about a building he owns being dangerous to the public, but he’s in a holding pattern about what to do.

Bolton owns the building, the old YMCA structure on Broad Street, across from City Hall. About three weeks ago, he told the Selma City Council of his worries. Bolton handed council members a copy of an engineering report in which structural engineer Ronald Martin of Tuscaloosa says the building “is beyond repair.” Bolton told the council he would appear before the Historic Commission to ask permission to tear down the building.

The Historic Commission is a city board made up of citizens who serve by appointment. The group’s duty is to ensure the structures in the city’s historic district maintain their identities. The commission is overseen by the city’s Planning and Development Department. Patty Sexton is the liaison.

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When Bolton appeared before the commission nearly 1 1/2 weeks ago, he had received a letter from the city’s Code Enforcement Department, informing him the building is in disrepair and has become a nuisance. The letter was addressed to Selma Baptist Church of Christ. Bolton said he obtained the property from Selma Baptist Church. The letter was signed by Code Enforcement Officer Reginald Fitts.

“You must remedy this condition by rebuilding the structure in conformity with the Building code of the City of Selma or demolish the building within thirty-one (31) days from the receipt of this notice,” says the letter dated Nov. 4. “If failure to comply, the City of Selma, a municipal corporation will proceed to demolish the building and the cost thereof will be assessed against the real estate upon which said building is situated and will constitute a lien thereon.”

But Sexton said the letter makes no difference.

“The commission, the ordinance says the commission has the authority, even though there is the letter,” she said.

That means Bolton will have to wait until the commission hires an independent engineer to examine the Broad Street structure and makes a recommendation.

David Schneider, executive director of Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, wrote a letter dated Nov. 19 to Scott Patterson, chairman of the Historic Commission asking the group to delay action of Bolton’s request to demolish the building.

The trust has identified an engineer and a source of money to cover the cost, if the city can’t, Schneider says in his letter.

Bolton replied to Fitts’ letter, saying the commission had deferred action for 45 days on his application to demolish the building and asked the City of Selma take no action until the commission renders its decision.