City, county government should split cost of any environmental issues at site

Published 9:30 pm Monday, August 11, 2014

Hundreds of pieces of property in Selma sit idle, crumbling steadily as wind and rain beat on aged walls.

The crumbling property ranges from historic houses, such as Amelia Boynton’s former residence, to old warehouses. Dilapidated property is essentially a staple in the Selma skyline.

Though, oddly, one large tract of crumbling property belongs to Dallas County government.

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It was formerly where county government sent it’s cars to be repaired. Now, it’s simply a home for garbage, stray animals and perhaps even a temporary home for the homeless.

The property, called the county yard, also sits idle. Unlike its dilapidated, residential counterparts, the county yard isn’t waiting on a renovation or demolition. It’s waiting on someone to finally figure out what to do with it.

On one hand, county government doesn’t need it, long having moved its auto repair operations to a site on U.S. Highway 80.

On another, city government is too nervous about what might lie underneath.

The property, however, has potential. It sits perfectly between a residential neighborhood and several parks.

If the city found a purpose for the handful of buildings on the county yard’s property, the site could end up complementing its surroundings.

Demolition is also a possibility.

Regardless, it’s disappointing to see such a property sit, without any worry about its current state or future.

Something needs to, and should, be done, whether it’s selling the land to an industry or giving it to the City of Selma.

Instead both local governments are mum on a standing offer and have been for years.

It’s time to gauge the opinion of the residents in the area.

Some government officials complain that the Ward 8 residents aren’t passionate enough, but it’s difficult to tell if someone is passionate about an issue unless questions are asked.

If the area’s residents are in favor of a new development, figuring out a solution for the disagreement isn’t difficult.

If the county truly wants to get rid of the property, both parties should split the cost of any environmental study. Because the county used the property and is potentially at fault for any ground contamination, Probate Judge Kim Ballard and his commissioners should pay for half, if not most, of any issues that arise.

Dallas County government represents citizens of Selma too and owes a duty to its residents to ensure a clean, healthy and safe life.

Splitting the cost of a deal would end the nervous standoff and could lead to a worthwhile development in one of Selma’s poorest neighborhoods.