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Letter: To park or not to park?

Our city is now poised to receive another gracious gift from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Foundation (BJRF) and over 40 other families in the form of a downtown park. As reported in a November 2016 article in Business North Carolina, BJRF envisions the park as having “art, water features, a concert stage and space to just relax” and as bringing “festivals, people, and liveliness (to downtown) as well as encourag(ing) downtown living by providing a green space for future residents.”

There’s a groundswell of support for this venture, as evidenced by the contributions of over 40 families. It’s clear that significant planning and fundraising has been done. However, it doesn’t appear that parking, a key component of any successful downtown project, has been addressed. There will be a net loss of spaces overall, per BJRF employee Jason Walser (Salisbury Post, April 14, 2017). One of the goals of the project is a space for concerts and festivals. Doesn’t it follow that sufficient parking must be available for these events to be successful? Additionally, it was recently announced that the rehabilitated Empire Hotel will include 62 residences whose owners must park somewhere, not to mention that insufficient parking has long been a complaint of downtown merchants.

Perhaps the foundation is quietly negotiating purchase of periphery properties, such as Hometown Furniture and adjacent buildings or the vacant lots owned by Lyerly Funeral Home and St. John’s Lutheran. The city might even be planning to upgrade (lighting, shrubbery, etc.) lots behind the County Administration Building and at the intersection of East Innes and Depot streets. Regardless, the ultimate question for citizens will be “to park or not to park,” and therein lies the future success or failure of this jewel in the making.

— Berry Robertson

Salisbury (not related to the Robertson family referenced herein)

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