Tear Downs In Montgomery For Selma To Montgomery March Anniversary

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By Amanda Wade

Big changes are on the way in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, and some say those changes may mean more than just a face lift to the city.

 
Montgomery's city council unanimously agreed Tuesday to tear down more than one dozen homes on or near the historic Selma to Montgomery March route.
 
Nine of the 14 houses are on Erskine Street and Oak Street. 
 
Mayor Todd Strange says the world will have its eyes on the city for the 50th anniversary celebration, and the council wants the city to be as attractive as it can be, "There are about 400 structures that are dilapidated or in need of tearing down, and we're trying to get the worst first. But in this particular case, we want to focus on the 50th Selma to Montgomery March route."
 
Strange says the city can abate nearly 130 properties each year, but the focus is on 40 properties along the march trail.
 
Civil Rights Historian Kenneth Mullinax says 50 years ago, many of these houses were home to families and the streets were active. He says by getting rid of the now vacant buildings, it may give the economy a boost, " By getting rid of eyesores, it makes other people think, 'Well, perhaps this is a good place to have a business or have a home,' and it can only improve property values."
 
City council members say they have been approving demolitions for the past six months to a year and this round of 14 tear downs is the last batch on the Selma to Montgomery March route.
 
Council members add the demolitions will start within the next month and a half to two months.