Society makes final push for Y

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, September 8, 2011

City officials and members of the Selma Historic Preservation Society are still searching for answers to the old YMCA building on Broad Street. A decision could be made by the end of the month whether to restore or tear down the structure. -- File photo

As concerns about the Old YMCA building on Broad Street continue to grow, Selma city officials and other representatives agreed during a Thursday subcommittee meeting safety has become an issue.

The building, which is owned by Dallas County resident Tom Bolton, could take as much as $2 million to restore. There has been an ongoing debate between Bolton and members of the Selma Historic Preservation Committee on whether the façade of the building could be saved. Bolton has maintained he would rather tear the building down, which would cost him $50,000, to avoid the danger of having the structure collapse.

In the end, the city agreed to give the Society an opportunity to secure funds to restore the facade and save the building. Though a timeline was not established, the city hopes to set a hearing before the council’s Sept. 27 meeting.

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Bolton said to save the facade, the building will have to be braced on both sides, which could slow traffic on Broad Street. He also said attempts at the proposed repairs could be for nothing. It is also possible more than money could be lost from a failed attempt to save the building.

“If that 60-foot wall falls on Broad Street, it’s going to kill somebody,” he said. “If you go to all the expense to brace the wall there is no guarantee that it is going to stay. Once you brace the outside, you increase the possibility it will fall the other way. You could spend more than $100,000 and it might not stay.”

Grants are an option, director of Planning and Development Charlotte Griffeth said, but are hard to secure.

“What I would suggest from the political arm of the city, you have a structure that has a lot of attention from people that want to save the façade,” she said. “Request to reclaim ADECA monies or request discretionary money from the state to help save the building. I’m not saying that it can happen, but it’s possible.”

Council member Tommy Atchison, said if Bolton’s plan is not approved, a backup plan is needed.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait,” he said. “The owner of the property said his proposal is tear the property down and make it a park or a parking area. Those who are against that plan need something to respond.”

Historic Preservation Society member Linda Derry said she would still like to have some time to see what the group can do to save the structure.

“I would love to have the time to see if I can go find enough funds to see if it is possible to brace it from the inside before we tear it down,” she said. “I’d like to try that option because I’ve seen it work many, many times.”

Selma Mayor George Evans said he does not want to wait until the worst possible circumstances come to light to take action.

“The worst scenario, in my opinion, is somebody getting killed,” he said. “At that point, we have to tear it down. I hope it doesn’t get to that point. We are in the season where tornadoes, hurricanes and winds are coming. The idea of trying to get the money should be a consideration, but by the same token, we need to set a timeline.”

Bolton initially requested to tear the building down, a request that was denied by the Society.

He has appealed the decision to the city and would eventually have to appeal to circuit court.

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