• 59°

Officials say newly opened Bell Tower Green Park is critical to city’s future

SALISBURY — When Mayor Karen Alexander and Dyke Messinger looked out at the crowd of people in Bell Tower Green Park on Friday, they saw more than a place for people gather.

“This park is the center of all the critical building blocks of a successful, diverse, collaborative city that values the many gifts and talents and treasures given so graciously by our citizens,” Alexander said during a gathering Friday afternoon to celebrate the park’s opening.

Alexander’s speech came after hours of activity in the park. People started flocking to Bell Tower Green shortly after workers removed the first sections of metal fencing. Children ran through the large grassy green in the middle of the park, climbed over a curved wall behind the green, sprinted through the splash pad at the base of the water wall, climbed over playground structures and screamed with excitement.

People brought lunch and dinner to the park to eat with friends and family. They used smartphones to video and take pictures of the park. Bell Tower Green Vice President Jason Walser spent nearly the whole day in the park — watching fencing go down, eating lunch, tossing a football on the green and videoing the afternoon event.

Others were content to sit in the park’s chairs and watch the world go by.

Friday’s activity were symbols of two of the goals the park’s proprietors aimed for when they started the project years ago — to bring some green to a landscape of rooftops and asphalt and create a gathering place. The Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation in 2016 purchased the city block were the park sits in hopes of creating the facility. It exercised an option it held for a year, agreeing to pay the Maxwell Chambers Trust $1.75 million for the block of property bounded by West Innes, South Church, West Fisher and South Jackson streets.

A nonprofit with the same name as the park raised more than $13 million, mostly from private donors, to build the facility. On Aug. 3, 2019, a groundbreaking marked the start of more than two years of construction. Signs in the park note there are still odds and ends unfinished, but it was time to open the park, Walser said.

The park will spur economic development in downtown Salisbury, said Messinger, who serves as president of the nonprofit for Bell Tower Green. Before retiring, he spent nearly four decades at the helm of Salisbury’s Power Curbers.

“People want to gather around parks, where there’s beauty and calm, where they can recreate like everyone’s doing today,” he said. “And this is what this park is also about: this park will be a shot in the arm for economic development in Salisbury.”

Alexander noted projects already planned or started during Bell Tower Green’s construction that aim to bring residential units to downtown, including the Empire Hotel, Bell Block Building at the intersection of South Main and Fisher streets as well as the Salisbury Building on West Council Street.

She called the park “an important and timeless gift” given by community donations that has “already created an economic catalyst for developers far and near to invest in our city to provide economic tax base and jobs for our citizens.”

It’s the best park in central North Carolina and may be the most impressive in the state, Messinger said.

During Friday afternoon’s brief event, Messinger presented Alexander and city government with a ceremonial key to the park. City government will pay for maintenance and hire staff to manage the park.

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds, who attended Friday’s event, said he’s excited about how the park will help the county and its nine other municipalities.

Comments

Elections

Council candidates discuss city’s handling of ‘Fame’ relocation, protesting, pandemic

Business

Making Memore: Entrepreneurs harness power of Kannapolis’ Food Innovation Lab

Education

Shoutouts

Business

DuPont purchases Salisbury-based manufacturing business

Christmas Happiness

Christmas Bureau opens applications for families to get holiday assistance

Education

Spencer Library hosts life pathways event

Local

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black seeking state branch’s top spot

Education

A fall theme on learning math at Mt. Ulla Elementary

High School

High school volleyball: West takes tournament title with victory over South

News

State briefs: Man charged after woman found dead in Davie home

News

GOP bill on NC governor’s emergency powers heads to his desk

Nation/World

Big changes in White House ideas to pay for $2 trillion plan

Nation/World

FDA OKs mixing COVID vaccines; backs Moderna, J&J boosters

Crime

NASCAR driver jailed on Rowan County assault charges

Education

Knox assistant principal resigns after video showing student confrontation

Crime

Woodleaf man jailed after two-county car chase

Elections

Rowan Board of Elections criticized for debating replacement of poll supervisor

Business

NC Small Business Administration official talks to Rowan Chamber about pandemic help

Local

Spencer aldermen, mayor candidates talk town’s future

High School

High school girls golf: Mustangs win regional, advance to state

Local

Firms hoping to lead Salisbury manager search will make pitches to council members Friday

Education

$2.24 million grant will major boost to Livingstone College STEM programs

Nation/World

Biden focuses on climate, families in trimmed $2T plan

Crime

Salisbury man arrested for running from deputies in smoke shop, tossing gun under table