Salisbury’s Bell Tower Green Park, the Bankett Station project, and the entire Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department continue to celebrate their honors bestowed at the recent North Carolina Main Street Awards ceremony held last week in Statesville, N.C.
Bell Tower Green Park captured the award of merit in the Best Outdoor Space Improvement category. This three-and-a-half-acre Park, located in the middle of Downtown Salisbury, boasts green space with a main green, promenade garden, leisure garden, creative play space (natural playground), restroom pavilion, water wall, gazebo and bosque garden, colorful gardens, Wrenn House (future restaurant, separate project), stage, Bell Tower and garden, granite seat wall and a garden trellis.
The Bell Tower Green Park property was purchased in 2017 by a local non-profit and donated to the newly-formed Bell Tower Green, Inc. With this transfer of property, and an initial collection of private funds from 45 families, planning, design and fundraising began for the creation and implementation of the new park.
In “A History of Rowan County, North Carolina,” the author calls for 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.” Early planning documents in the layout of Salisbury show a ‘town commons’ in the center of the city, and this vision has been carried through various generations of the City and Downtown Salisbury’s leadership.
According to the nomination form, “Bell Tower Green has brought new economic impact to Downtown through visitor dollars, larger festivals, and events and multiple ongoing concert series. The new green space brings people from Rowan County and those visiting together into a beautiful space.”
Bankett Station, at the corner of Innes and Lee Streets, won Best Infill Project. An infill project is a formerly vacant and under-utilized parcel within the existing urban area that has been reinvigorated. This corner property, developed by Downtown Properties LLC, Bogle Firm Architecture, and Ritchie Engineering, PC, is a seamless addition to Downtown Salisbury’s streetscape. Formerly, the corner housed a service station, next to two warehouse and automobile buildings, all of which had been vacant for some time and stood at the entrance to Downtown Salisbury.
In an effort to revitalize a crucial entrance to Downtown, Downtown Properties chose to carefully deconstruct the service station, with historic materials being saved for a future project, and design-build new construction in its place. The first floor houses the offices of HealthCare Management, while the second story has five apartments. This infill property is designed carefully to occupy a pivotal corner of Downtown Salisbury with intention, but while flowing with the existing historic architecture in the downtown.
The Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department was honored as one of 38 Main Street Champions throughout the N.C. Department of Commerce program. North Carolina Main Street Champions are recognized for their contributions to their Main Street programs and downtown districts. Since the recognition started in 2000, including this year’s honorees, 375 Champions have been honored by the state.
A staff of 12 full-time and 10 part-time Parks and Recreation employees maintain more than 29 properties and parks. Among those properties are Bell Tower Green, Graffiti Park and Gateway Park, all of which are located in Salisbury’s Downtown District.
Parks and Recreation manages all of these recreational spaces and their programs, including parades, festivals, events, concerts and movies nearly every weekend throughout the spring and summer, and at major holidays like Juneteenth, Pride, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. In one year, the staff put in over 1,300 hours serving on committees to enhance Downtown, and planning and assisting Downtown Salisbury with events such as Wine About Winter, College Night Out, and Holiday Night Out, just to name a few.
“North Carolina’s most important asset is the people that live and work in their communities, and our Main Street program teaches our communities how to leverage this invaluable resource into positive economic change,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders.
“Champions are the heartbeat of rural North Carolina,” said Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary of Rural Economic Development at the N.C. Department of Commerce. “They don’t give up on their communities and keep fighting for new businesses, new jobs, and new investment.”
“Main Street Champions are passionate about their community and their downtown districts,” said Liz Parham, Director of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center at Commerce. “They are public officials, volunteers, community leaders and concerned citizens that are all working collaboratively for common goals within the context of their community’s economic development strategies”.