• 45°

A new nonprofit, Bell Tower Green Inc., will lead downtown park’s development

Special to the Salisbury Post

Recent activity in the 200 block of West Innes Street in downtown Salisbury attests to progress being made to create a new downtown park for the city. The bank building has been removed and many of its components are being repurposed in the community.

Not visible to the eye, however, are several other recent developments that continue to move the park project forward.

Although originally purchased by the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation with support from community-minded philanthropists, the property has now been transferred to a newly formed nonprofit corporation managed by an independent board of directors.

Officially named “Bell Tower Green, Inc.” this new organization received its recognition as a nonprofit charity in April. The transfer of the property to the new organization occurred July 31.

The new entity will oversee planning, design, fundraising, partnership creation and implementation for the new park.

LandDesign, a landscape architecture firm based in Charlotte, is in the process of finalizing a master plan which hopefully will be completed in the fall of this year. Also, “greening” of at least some parts of the 3.5 acre property will begin before year’s end.

Dyke Messinger is serving as the initial chairman of the Bell Tower Green board of directors. Other board members include Meredith Abramson, Bret Busby, Paul Fisher, Darrell Hancock, Gerry Hurley, Margaret Kluttz, Clay Lindsay, Ed Norvell, Dyke Messinger, Jane Ritchie, and Jason Walser.

“The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation certainly did its part to secure the property initially,” Messinger said in a press release, “but the 45 families who have donated funds, energy and wisdom to the project so far are the reason we are able to move forward with beginning at least the first phase of our park in the near future.

“This is truly a community-driven project, and it is appropriate that a public nonprofit take over at this point to try to ensure as many public benefits to the community as possible.”

Margaret Kluttz, president of the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, concurred.

“This dynamic group of volunteers have already devoted a lot of time to helping take the park project from a dream to reality,” she said. “This group has raised more than $4 million to pay for the purchase and first phase of the park development. They are moving forward with passion and vision.”

Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce secured by the City of Salisbury, improvements were made to the structural integrity of the bell tower located on site over the winter and spring of this year, as well as to the aesthetics of the interior and exterior.

New doors were crafted by Goodman Millworks that are exact replicas of the doors that were originally on the tower in 1891.

Messinger said private fundraising efforts continue.

“We are certainly planning to move forward with development of our park as quickly as possible,” he said, “but we still need significantly more money to build the type of quality park that we dream of for our community.

“We are taking a leap of faith in moving forward without all the funding that we need in hand, but even if we have to phase the development of the park, we did not want to wait years before getting started.”

As has been reported previously, the park master plan will include substantial green space and flowers, parking, performance and community space, opportunities for existing programming (such as the farmers market and Pops at the Post) and public restrooms.

Comments

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

Seven new COVID-19 deaths, 166 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds

Local

Salisbury Station one of several ‘hot spots’ included in NCDOT rail safety study

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, school considering options

News

Iredell County votes to move Confederate memorial to cemetery

Nation/World

Lara Trump may have eyes on running for a Senate seat

Local

Rowan among counties in Biden’s disaster declaration from November floods

Local

PETA plans protest at Salisbury Police Department on Friday

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, charter revoked

Coronavirus

29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with drug crimes

News

Nesting no more: Eagles appear to have moved on from Duke’s Buck Station

Business

The Smoke Pit leaving downtown Salisbury for standalone building on Faith Road

Education

Shoutouts

High School

High school football: Hornets’ Gaither set the tone against West

Local

Salisbury to show off new fire station

Education

Livingstone College to host virtual Big Read events this month

Local

City makes some appointments to local boards, holds off on others to seek women, appointees of color

Education

Education briefs: RCCC instructor honored by Occupational Therapy Association

Local

Second quarter financial update shows promising outlook for city’s budget