Darts and Laurels: Social district good idea for downtown Salisbury

Published 11:09 pm Monday, January 10, 2022

Laurels to Downtown Salisbury, Inc. for pursuing the creation of a social district in the downtown area.

The district would allow people to consume alcohol purchased at licensed establishments and walk around downtown. Presumably it would look something like buying a drink at Shuckin’ Shack and sitting on sidewalk stools outside or purchasing a beer at New Sarum or Morgan Ridge and walking to see a band play elsewhere in downtown. How about going shopping in downtown, purchasing a drink at a licensed establishment and relaxing on a downtown bench?

A downtown social district would contribute to the city’s efforts to make downtown a destination and reduce the degree to which people only come to downtown for one stop.

It would not mean people could bring a cooler to downtown and drink from it with friends. It wouldn’t change the fact that being drunk and disorderly in public or driving impaired are crimes.

DSI representatives told reporter Natalie Anderson in a story published Sunday (“DSI exploring social district for alcohol consumption”) they’ll propose the entirety of the downtown municipal service district, but it’s possible to start small. The city also could limit the social district to specific hours and days.

There’s plenty of room to adapt a social district to what locals prefer. And DSI staff and volunteers plan to have a host of public input sessions about the idea.

Is a social district Salisbury’s biggest priority? Of course not. The city of Salisbury must do its part to ensure people have opportunities for good-paying jobs, incentivize affordable housing options and provide peace of mind about public safety. But the Salisbury City Council and staffers must be able to handle multiple things at once, and the creation of a social district could be a good addition to downtown’s offerings. Kannapolis has proven the idea can work.

Laurel to the news that Salisbury will receive $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice for a crime prevention program in the West End neighborhood.

The program will involve a project coordinator, community activities, enhanced recreational spaces, restoring vacant lots where possible and a Community Violence Intervention Team. It’s exactly the kind of holistic program that can make a lasting impact on the lives of families and children as well as reduce incidents of crime in the area.

Police Chief Jerry Stokes said as much when he noted that past efforts had been law enforcement-focused.

“Now, partnering with parks and recreation and community planning, this grant will provide guidance from DOJ to find means we haven’t tried before to reduce crime through partnerships while building the neighborhoods in the West End,” Stokes said.

Dart to new highs for COVID-19 cases in Rowan County.

As the omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country, it’s doing the same here — topping the numbers Rowan County saw during the delta variant’s spread. While there’s speculation about the newer variant being less severe, hospitalizations are rising with new cases. Data from health care providers such as Novant and Atrium show most people in the hospital are unvaccinated. Rowan County Health Department data show most recent deaths have occurred among the unvaccinated, too.

It’s important for the public, including the vaccinated, to take action reflecting that the pandemic isn’t over, including mask wearing and avoiding large indoor events where the virus spreads easily. Two years into the pandemic, everyone has lowered their guard against a still-deadly virus.

It’s important to stay vigilant.