Ralph Baker: Mall could house school offices too

  • Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013 10:18 p.m.
Ralph Baker Sr., owner of Ralph Baker's Shoes. Photo by Andy Mooney, Salisbury Post.
Ralph Baker Sr., owner of Ralph Baker's Shoes. Photo by Andy Mooney, Salisbury Post.

Dear City Council, School Board and Rowan County Commissioners:

The answer to the new school administration building seems so simple to me that it seems like any rational boards could get together and make this work.

First of all, if I were writing this for greedy purposes, I would recommend the site on South Main Street to attract more people uptown and downtown, whichever the case may be. But it seems like two really bad circumstances have come up so that it really wouldn’t be functional regardless of the extra nice family that has agreed to finance the building. This family deserves all the appreciation of everyone in Rowan County. The two problems are that there is a question about contamination and the other is where in the world are all these employees going to park? Will they take up retail customer parking spaces on the street? Will any visitors have ample parking spaces or will they have to park on the street?

I am sure that both of these problems are either worked out or the school board has a plan.

However, in my opinion, the perfect situation would be to let the city/county buy the Salisbury Mall property and split it for the necessary departments to have the space that they need. An example would be to use the approximately 100,000 square feet that Belk occupied for the new school administration building and then let the county have the remaining approximately 220,000 square feet for the needs of the county. Let the city/county prorate the cost of the mall according to the square footage that each would occupy and split the parking lot according to the same formula.

Would this not be the perfect solution? The school board gets their building, the county gets the space that they need and the city gets all they need, too.

Now, another solution would be to do the above with investor money. I would bet that the “wonderful family” that volunteered to finance the school administrative building would be just as willing to finance this project. The banks are not paying any interest to speak of and this would be a win-win-win-win-win situation. Breaking that down, it would be a win for the school board, a win for city council, a win for the commissioners, a win for the wonderful family that would finance the project, and last but not least, this would be a terrific win for all the citizens of Rowan County.

This should be a “chance in a lifetime” that so many people could benefit. Commissioners, council members and school board members, please give this careful consideration. While this may not be the brand new building that the school board members wanted, this can be as good as new, if not better, and you get everything that would be needed for at least three generations.

With all three boards working together. everyone wins.

Heck, I just happened to think of other winners; this will create a lot of jobs in the county with our carpenters and contractors and also a local architect. Of course we want to keep the jobs in our county so that these workers will spend their money in our county. What could be better?

Ralph L. Baker is owner of Baker Shoes in Salisbury.

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