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10 to Watch in 2019: Bell Tower Green

Q&A

Bell Tower Green

Birthplace: Salisbury

Favorite book: “A History of Rowan County, North Carolina” by J. Rumple, which in 1753 has the first account of the desire for a commons park in downtown Salisbury

Who would play you in a movie? A combo of Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte and LeBauer Park in Greensboro, but with more trees

What would you want for your last meal? A picnic lunch preferably enjoyed in a new downtown Salisbury park

What is one thing Rowan County community should focus on for 2019? My neighbor, Empire Hotel

Who will you be watching in 2019? The city of Salisbury, both staff and council members

What is your reaction to being named as one of the “10 to Watch”? Truly a breath of fresh air

A gathering space for the community is the goal of the Bell Tower Green project.

A portion of “A History of Rowan County, North Carolina” mentions the need for a downtown Salisbury park, calling it a place “where the inhabitants might resort at will … and refresh themselves by breathing the pure air that comes whispering through the rustling leaves of the trees.”

Jason Walser, board vice president of Bell Tower Green Inc., said the need for a downtown park became particularly apparent after Rowan County’s softball championship.

“There was no area where everyone knew, ‘That’s where you go.’ Like in Charlotte, the Romare Bearden Park is where you go if the Panthers make the playoffs,” Walser said. “It’s for if something good happens.”

Construction on the park is set to begin in the spring, but preparation work has already started.

“Things are happening,” Walser said. “We have drawings happening. We have the design of the fountain happening. Streets are happening. We’re still raising money.”

In February, the project’s organizers will return to the Historic Preservation Committee to give updates and deliver materials requested at a previous meeting.

By fall of 2020, Walser said, the park should be fully functioning. The exact time is dependent on factors such as weather — which has slowed construction projects this year — funding and its timing.

“We have a lot to be proud of, but to me the park just brings it all together,” Walser said. “It’s the missing piece, for whatever reason, we’ve never had. We have great parks, just not a downtown park.”

“It’s just going to be a very loved park,” Walser said. 

 — Liz Moomey

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