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Letters to the editor – Saturday (9-24-11)

Parking lot decision wasn’t in public’s best interests
In closing the Lee Street alley, City Council didn’t do its due diligence in defining “the public’s interests.” In addition, it created an artificial urgency to pass the request on the Wallaces’ behalf.
Engineering staff recommended that closing the alley would serve the public interests by (1) securing utility easements and (2) by the property owners “modest improvements.” Considering no other possible public interests, Council voted to close the alley with urgency, citing the applicant’s concern for the changing of the seasons.
Fact:
• The alley and surrounding property are identified as important to downtown’s future in the Downtown Master Plan. Closing the alley is contrary to the Downtown Master Plan. City Council didn’t consider the plan in its decision.
• The city is not obligated to close a public alley, even if adjoining property owners want it closed. By its public nature, it shouldn’t be closed if it is not in the city’s best longterm interests.
• The city attempted to purchase the adjoining property for public parking on several occasions. Giving away the alley for private parking makes that more difficult.
• The property owner has not improved the property in 25 years. The owner admitted he not need to own the alley to make proposed improvements.
• The city does not need to give away the property to obtain easements for a fire sprinkler loop.
• Contrary to the public interest, the property owner is only making minor cosmetic improvements.
For 25 years, the Wallaces have cited “unfavorable market conditions” for lack of reinvestment in their properties. Yet council voted to close the alley on a vague promise of possible future development.
As a citizen of Salisbury and a downtown developer, I’m very disappointed council did not act in the public’s best interests. By narrowly defining the public’s interests and refusing any role in managing the condition of downtown’s public alleys, the city is doing downtown revitalization and the public a disservice.
— Michael S. Young
Salisbury
A ceremony to remember
I’m writing to thank the community of Salisbury for coming together for such a meaningful event on 9/11.
“A Ceremony of Remembrance” was held at Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel. Several hundred gathered in a time of reflection that truly signified the hope of the day, to bring our community together.
I’m grateful to Catawba College for allowing the community to gather in a neutral location, one of the most beautiful spaces for worship in Salisbury. College employees provided the support to allow this to happen so efficiently.
I also want to express gratitude to the Salisbury Police Department for enabling Officer Corey Brooks to serve as liturgist and for his coordination of the Police Explorers who served as the Color Guard.
I’m also grateful to the local Fire Department for enabling Captain Matt Lowman to serve as liturgist. It was momentous to see an entire row of firefighters at the event.
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office provided the Honor Guard who provided a 21-gun salute following the event.
The music was exceptional! Piper Dave McKenzie set the tone and then ended the event with “Amazing Grace.” Rick Smith, conductor, and Rob Hallquist, pianist, did a magnificent job leading the choirs from seven churches. The joint hand bell choir added to the reflection of the moment.
“The Testament of Freedom” exhibited Randall Thompson’s ability to allow us to hear the very words of Thomas Jefferson in the context of 9/11.
It was a wonderful way to bring a day of reflection, remembrance and honor to a close for the day that changed our nation and our world. It is most momentous when people of various bodies of Christ can gather as “one” to make meaning of such tragedy through the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Jefferson said it best: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.”
— Jim C. Dunkin
Salisbury
Dunkin is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury.

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