Selma riverfront park making slow progress

SELMA, AL (WSFA) - "That's going to be our amphitheater here. That actually was an old warehouse that's now going to be the amphitheater," says Selma Mayor George Evans.

Evans believes in a few years, the area along the Alabama river in Selma will be complete--a multi-million dollar riverfront park with an amphitheater, playground, aquarium, and water fountain.

"There's a lot to be done but we're getting there little bit by little bit," he says.

The concept of the project was born years ago. But, Evans says a lack of funding and grant money explains why it's taking so long to complete it.

"I think once the amphitheater is up and running...things will just fall into place after that."

He expects the theater to be finished in a year providing a venue for outdoor concerts and cityfests.

"I believe tourism is Selma's answer for economic growth," says business owner Dianne Smitherman.

She owns the Restaurant on Grumbles Alley--right across from the riverfront.

"When Water Avenue is completed, the riverfront, I think it will definitely have an impact on the local businesses on this street. But I also hope it brings manufacturing, and industrial and other businesses to this town."

Smitherman has waited years to see the park finished. She says just seeing progress is refreshing.

"I'm waiting until we have more vegetation planted, and the lights are on and a nice walkway, and I'm told that's going to be soon," she adds.

Revitalization of Water Avenue is also part of the plan.

Mayor Evans believes when it's all said and done, Water Avenue will be another Bourbon Street, and the park--like San Antonio.

"You won't have to go to Louisiana and Texas. Come right to Alabama...Selma, Alabama."

Evans expects the entire project to be finished in 3 years. The city is actively applying for more grants to pay for the park.

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