Decision time on Old Town properties

Published 10:30 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

The Selma City Council continues to discuss the future of three homes in the Old Town area. Rivertown Properties has offered to buy houses located at 901 Church Street, 907 Church Street and 900 Tremont Street and surrounding vacant lots for $20,000 but it has not been given final approval.

The city owns all three properties and the vacant lots, but has yet to make a decision on how it wants to move forward.  Most of the discussion has centered around the house on Tremont Street, which has been rented by the same family for 25 years.

The current tenants of that house are two and a half years behind on rent to the city.

It’s understandable for the city not to want to kick anyone out of their house, but it’s hard to be sympathetic for someone that is that far behind on rent.

It’s not the city of Selma’s job to be a landlord, but if the city is going to let someone live in a house, it should at least make sure the bills are paid on time.

It’s even harder to justify letting the current tenant stick around when there’s a buyer ready to invest in the properties. It’s not every day that someone walks into Old Town, picks out a handful of properties and is willing to renovate them.

If it was common, there wouldn’t be dilapidated buildings throughout the city of Selma.

The city’s involvement thus far has included telling the potential buyer and current tenant to try to work something out. It’s hard to imagine that working considering the city actually owns the properties.

While we understand not wanting to boot anyone from their home, the city needs to get rid of this property one way or the other. Selma is already in the hotel business, the theater business plus more enterprises outside its scope and now is reminding us all that it’s also in the housing business.

The city should move forward cautiously, but it should also make sure it actually moves forward. If the tenant on Tremont Street wants to buy the property, then that’s great. If not, the city should give the interested buyer a chance to invest before she grows frustrated and loses interest.