By Paul Fisher
The year 2020 will certainly be one for the history books.
Our daily routines have been altered, loved ones have gotten sick or lost jobs and we have all grown weary of having to distance ourselves from those we care about the most. Uncertainty seems to be our new default setting, and the resulting fear has taken a toll on us all.
Sometimes after watching the morning news, I feel like my tank is just empty even before my day has hardly begun. Throw in some health challenges I had this past year, and it has seemed harder than ever to get excited about the days ahead.
For those who know me, you know that I love this community, this county and this country as much as anybody, and it is not like me to ever doubt that we have brighter days ahead.
Which is why I thank God every day for the beam of sunshine that Salisbury’s new downtown park promises to us all. Bell Tower Green is just what our community needs to be able to come together for a brighter tomorrow.
Already, I am enjoying daily virtual walks in the park. From the comfort of my recliner, I am able to close my eyes and experience a stroll through this place of beauty, respite and healing.
As I enter the park from Fisher Street, I am immediately drawn to the laughter of running children playing on the logs and hills and tunnels at the intersection near Jackson Street. Beyond these children I see mothers and fathers of all colors and backgrounds smiling and talking with each other over cups of coffee on the patio outside of the restaurant as their kids play together a few feet away. I stroll down the curved sidewalk to the middle of the park and look left towards the bell tower, where many flowers and bushes are blooming, providing a quiet refuge around the gazebo. I glance at the people of all ages playing chess and backgammon on the tables along Innes Street, and wonder what activities are coming up at the outdoor stage and commons area. By this point, I can feel the mist of the water wall as I turn to see kids playing in the refreshing waters of the splashpad. Young couples stroll through the arched trellises beyond these children, hand in hand, while neighbors eat lunches and read books in front of the library along the Fisher Street border. Birds are chirping, butterflies are plentiful and the world seems as inviting and enticing as it ever has.
There is nothing about this little dream walk I frequently take that is unrealistic. To the contrary: it will be a reality in a matter of months! I don’t remember being as excited about anything in a long time as I am about this. It is as if our creator knew what we needed before we did and got to work helping us get ready for this moment in time.
Our world is sick, literally and figuratively. I can’t pretend that our park is going to kill this virus or immediately revive our economy. We all know that we still have tough days ahead. But I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Or, perhaps I should say I can see a beautifully lit waterfall through the tunnel of flowers in Bell Tower Green as I walk into the park coming from Main Street.
The prescription the doctor has given us for our ailments is a place where we can all come together in beauty and fellowship in the not-too-distant future. It makes me feel good when I ponder this reality.
This park represents rebirth in any number of ways: from the year-round budding flowers to the new restaurant in the old Wrenn House; from the weddings at the bell tower to the new festivals in the commons; and from the children visiting from the adjoining child development centers to the budding romances and engagements at the water wall.
I could go on and on, but the point is clear: right smack dab in the middle of our historic downtown we are building a promising future for ourselves based in beauty, fellowship and community.
I have said many times before that this project has been a series of little miracles. There were many reasons why this new park might not have happened, but our community banded together to find a way to build a brighter future together.
We are down to the last $250,000 needed to make this dream a reality. More than 400 families have given to the future of Salisbury and Rowan County already. Has yours? Will your name be a part of this legacy project for our community?
We are in the home stretch for fundraising for this project. Of the nearly $200,000 remaining to be raised, the next $50,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous donor. But this is not about gimmicks. This is about being a part of one of the most exciting, promising and positive things happening during this otherwise challenging moment in history. Will you be a part of the new chapter in our history that Bell Tower Green represents? Will you join me in feeling the pride of being a part of this little miracle in Salisbury in 2020?
I sure hope so. Contributions can be made online at belltowergreen.com, via phone at (704) 637-0511, or via mail at Bell Tower Green, P.O. Box 4242, Salisbury, NC 28145-4242.
I look forward to seeing you at the water wall this time next year.
It will be refreshing in more ways than one.
Paul Fisher, chairman emeritus of F&M Bank, is on the Board of Bell Tower Green and serves as chair of its fundraising committee.
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