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Talkback: What online readers say about …

… City looks at making Plaza building a hotel; many tenants opposed

At the time, the 1989 gift of the Wallace Building, now the Plaza, by Ralph and Anne Ketner to the city was a godsend to downtown.

Over the years, the Plaza has become a Who’s Who of Salisbury’s … movers and shakers, or what downtown developers have called government-subsidized housing for the affluent. The point being that the city is renting class-A apartments for below-market rates, the result being a depressed market for developers trying to do market rate development downtown. A building is only worth what you can get for it in rent, and market rental rates are being undermined by cheap rents at the Plaza.

One comment about the sale by a resident was, “I don’t’ cook, I walk everywhere.” You can still do that. You can do that in a privately owned and developed, non-government-subsidized, market-rate downtown apartment. There are tons of them. There are more in the works including the Empire Hotel Development and the O.O. Rufty General Store adaptive reuse project.

It is time for the city to sell and a hotel is a great fit. It will be good for downtown.

— Michael Young

The average cost of a boutique hotel is $350 plus per night. What does downtown Salisbury provide that would justify that price vs the average cost of less than $125 per night for the new chain hotels in the city? Who is this mysterious “persistent person” and what is his or her motivation?

When Ralph Ketner bought the Wallace building, payed for the renovation and then gave it to the city, as the Plaza apartments, his objective was to create affordable downtown living. … The man is barely cold in his grave, and already the city is entertaining the idea of selling this magnificent gift.

— Karen Bowyer

Bird in the hand, people — not pie in the sky. Then again, look at how successful Fibrant has been.

— Douglas Jacobs

… Editorial: The Plaza’s success story

While the name of the building remained the Wallace Building, the Wallace family had sold it in the mid-’60s. The owners lived in New York and seemed to have little interest in keeping it up. As tenants moved out, it became even harder to make capital improvements.

The building was fully occupied and was in excellent shape when we sold it. Over 20 years later, it fell into steep decline. The downtown went through a traumatic period in the ’80s when Woolworth, Grant’s, Penney and Belk (and many others) left for suburban areas. It recovered with no small contribution from Mr. Ketner.

— Victor Wallace

… Colin Campbell: Transparency needed to prevent Cardinal scandal

There should be transparency in services billed, also. With Medicaid you never see a statement about what has been billed for your child. When you ask to see the record, you find out that everyone has billed and no one has shown up to do the work.

One young, single woman who was my son’s case manager had billed for hours and hours each month for work she didn’t do. Her supervisor gave me looks that could kill when I documented it and reported. Is she in jail? No. She bought herself a nice house and now has a job with TEACCH. Every time I looked at my son’s records, there were people who billed and didn’t do the work.

— Gayle Adcock

I strongly agree with Mr. Campbell’s conclusion, “Any organization that gets the bulk of its funding from the government should be required to post salaries online and report them to the state.” That kind of transparency should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. Perhaps legislation can be crafted in the short session to make such a law.

— Jeff Morris

… Burgin: Mental health agency was moving toward privatization

Right now there are about 11,000 people on the waitlist for developmental disability services. However, my guess is that number is higher. There is no transparency in the waitlist. Right now in Rowan County, the waitlist is 10 years. Yes, 10 years. Those that are lucky enough to have the waiver have seen their services cut and needed services denied. … It is way more than just one person.

Mr. Burgin, I would gladly serve on the Board of Directors. I think if the board had an IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) advocate, then maybe you wouldn’t be in the mess that you are in today. However, my guess would be that I would have been swiftly voted off the board like Bryan Thompson was.

While my daughter waits for the waiver on the 10-year wait list, I will be the mom that is calling the state legislators, senators and anyone else who will listen.

I am going to encourage or rather demand that Dr. Mandy Cohen (secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services) or someone go after Toppings severance package and his top cronies. In a perfect world, all the board members who voted for the increase in salary and payment of these outrageous severance packages would be held accountable too.

— Amber Crawford-Grumbles

Let’s go back to Piedmont and their handling of money for mental health, the lawsuit with Rowan Homes and closing their group homes. The state needed to take charge a long time ago.

— Debbie Martin

I would love to think they would allow a consumer in the board, but do not hold your breath.

— Karen Boger

… The Park Plaza: Past and future

If you could get a nice place to eat in Park Plaza without making so many permits needed, the people who are visiting the trains across the street would likely cross the street to eat. I understand Bebops had a nice crowd when Thomas visited.

There is really no place for visitors to the railroad to eat without getting in their cars and driving out to Hendrix or BoJangles. If we had a few nice shops also in the mall, lots of moms would cross the street to shop while dads and their sons visited the trains.

The one thing that has to be addressed is the rent. Many years ago my son and I looked for a building to open a used bookstore on Salisbury Avenue. I probably could have rented in Salisbury or China Grove for much less. I would have had to sell many, many used books to pay the rent and would have been lucky to even have any left over for utilities. This is not Charlotte, but prices seem like it. Please give businesses a chance to make a go of it and then maybe raise their rent after a few years.

— Judy and Doug Schenk

… John Hood: Public transit will waste tax dollars

Where did John Hood get his data for this article? It’s not funny being stuck between Salisbury and Charlotte on I-85 during rush hour. Wish there was a train I could catch to and from downtown Charlotte.

I lived in the New York metropolitan area and was able to park my car in a secure lot and catch the Long Island Railroad into the city. Others who lived as far as 75 miles from the city are able to take a bus or park their cars and ride the trains and public transportation. What’s the real reason for resisting public conveyance ?

Like it or not, public transportation is coming to the Charlotte-to-Raleigh corridor as our state population increases in density.

— Reginald Brown

… Karen Bowyer: Tear it down and they will come

I suppose the Rowan County Tourism Authority should be all about optimism. But using internet databases and general industry studies to make local economic projections for Salisbury-Rowan County should be done with extreme caution. What’s happening in other places should not necessarily be expected here. Aren’t we unique? Or an original or whatever it is?

No more pet projects or rainbow dreams like downtown hotels, Fibrant, wedding venues and now breweries unless valid data supports it.

I would hope our current City Council will tune their common sense sensors to the highest setting and challenge all data to be as complete and accurate as possible. Dig deeper; sniff it out.

— Graham M. Carlton

… Letter: GOP has gone too far

Just what beliefs and morals does Mr Safiit find objectionable? Did his opponent in the past election have more acceptable morals, beliefs and behavior? Or does he find all politicians objectionable? Inquiring minds want to know.

— Hansel Bumgarner

… Letter: Republicans’ moral indignation was for show

Republicans this, Republicans that. Didn’t there use to be a band named One Eye Blind? To think one side or the other has all the virtue while the other side has none is the exact polarizing lens those who own the swamp want us to be looking out of.

— Mike Gobble

… One day at a time: Annie Cooke turns 100

Thank you for doing this story. I have known Annie Laurie Cooke for over 35 years, and she is still the same. If you see her you will think you are with a 75-year-old, young-at-heart lady. You spend a few minutes with her and you will leave uplifted and happy (probably laughing) and definitely knowing you just met a person that walks with God. She has a lovely voice and I had the pleasure to hear her sing a solo since her last birthday.

Annie Laurie has touched and blessed many people over this past 100 years including me and my family. We love her and wish her a very happy birthday.

— Tom Speaks

… Letter: Jim Duncan’s dream has been realized

I hope everyone realizes how special this event is for our youth. My students were so excited to attend. They got to get dressed up, have their name called and activity described, walk across Catawba’s beautiful stage, receive their certificate, shake Dr. Moody’s hand and pose for a picture with Santa.

My students also told me how much they enjoyed hearing about all of the nominations. This event is special to our students.

Thank you, Jim Duncan, for making this night happen every year for our children.

— Angie Fleming

… Letter: Must be a better way to fix roads

Take a good look at the U.S. 52, Crescent/Anthony/Gold Knob Road debacle. Almost all of the residents wanted to widen Gold Knob Road and close off Anthony Road. But no, they routed traffic through a very densely populated neighborhood.

— Steve Troutman

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