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Dyke Messinger column: Bell Tower Green will be your park

We at Bell Tower Green are excited to open the park on Sept. 10, the day before Pops at the Post. This project has been in the works for almost six years, and the grand opening is only a few days away. So what possessed us to work all this time on a project costing $13 million? First, we all believed that Salisbury needed an attractive green space downtown. Take a look around, and you will see lots of buildings, but very few areas of green. We live in a world of hardscapes but very little of soft, pleasing and comfortable landscapes.  That was of primary importance to us. Bell Tower Green will help change the character of our community.

The next objective was to ‘cultivate community,’ to the extent we could with a park. It is well documented that parks bring people together. Bell Tower Green will be a place for everyone. We will see children at play, people engaging and visiting with one another as they walk the park. Bell Tower Green will be Salisbury’s front porch. Do you remember how the front porch was a part of life before we all built a back porch for privacy? When that happened, we lost a sense of community. We must bring back the conversation, smiles, relaxation, renewal, and respect that comes with getting to know others. Am I Pollyannish about what can happen in this park? In some ways, yes, but don’t you think this can help us cultivate community? Won’t the park be a building block to more community engagement? All of us on the Bell Tower team and the City of Salisbury sure think so.   

Parks have also proven to be a source of economic development. People want to live close to parks and green spaces. With people come retail establishments and other activities. Over time, the investment in parks comes back many times in a broader economic base and increased property taxes. In addition, tourism will grow because this park will be a destination for families in a close geographic radius. As tourism grows, Salisbury will be seen as a gem in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. This will bring more residents and greater prosperity. As Victor Wallace has said, we have the physical and social infrastructure of a city many times our size.

I hope you will join us at 11 a.m. on Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony and later in the day for yoga (3 p.m.), and our four bands are starting at 4 p.m., running until 10 p.m. It’s going to be lots of fun. The park will be deeded to the city that day, and it will become your park, the best ending imaginable.

Dyke Messinger is president of Bell Tower Green.

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