The Uncle Buck’s summit? Paris invites Pierce to settle differences over cheeseburger



Submitted by David Whisenant
Thursday, November 7th, 2013, 8:25am
SALISBURY – Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris wants to have dinner with Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce to settle their differences over an Uncle Buck’s cheeseburger.

“I think it’s important to put that behind us,” Paris said, referring to a video of a recent meeting of the Rowan Republicans in which Paris faced some tough questions and admittedly rude comments from members. “Our citizens want us to resolve these issues and move forward to more pressing matters,” Paris told Kent Bernhardt on WSTP Radio Thursday morning.

Among the issues are the county’s interest in the purchase and development of the Salisbury Mall.

“The BOCs approved an offer to purchase a contract on a 4-1 vote,” County Manager Gary Page told WBTV. “The contract offers $3.45 million for purchase of the Mall with a closing date of 12/16/13.

In the interim, the County has the right to go on the property for the purpose of conducting a Phase I Environmental Assessment. Should the Phase I indicate there are no environmental contamination issues with the property, then we’ll continue the process until the closing date.

Under the proposed terms, all current lease income will be paid to the County effective 12/1/13. These funds will be used to pay the overhead costs of water, sewer, and electric bills.

The owner is in the process of considering our offer and terms. Should he accept, then we’ll wire 10% or $345,000 in earnest money to an escrow account for the closure in December.”

Pierce recently stated that if the County did get the mall, it would consider moving many offices and departments out of downtown Salisbury and into the mall.

At the Republican Party meeting, Doug Paris said he had concerns about the development cost. He repeated those concerns Thursday morning.

“I shared concerns about the total redevelopment of the mall,” Paris said.

Paris noted that price ranges for redevelopment were from $30-$50 million, and he said that would likely result in an increase in tax rate.

“It would harm downtown and it would really upset a lot of individuals in both the city and county, residents who have made investment in downtown,” Paris added. “A majority of the county comission could really be heroes if they could find a way to redevelop the mall and not harm downtown.”

“I challenge them to take a look at opportunities that are not win-lose. I think that’s the best way to move forward.”

Another issue is the ongoing debate on where to place the school system central office.

“There’s been tension basically generated over the central office for the past year,” Pierce said. Paris added on the radio that the debate had actually been going on for about 25 years.

“We’re at a point where this topic has been in the news for 2 years. Simply follow state law to allow the school board to pick location and this issue can be solved permanently.”

And then there’s that video showing Paris being challenged repeatedly as he tried to speak. At one point one man even gets up and urges everyone to walk out. He comes back a few minutes later when no one follows his lead.

“I’m not saying we have anything to hide,” Pierce told WSTP. “We don’t care if our things are videoed. This was not a trap set for Doug Paris as the guest speaker. He was making comments that for all intents and purposes that were really not there to be accepted.”

Pierce did admit things got a little out of hand.

“It was a little on the rude side.”

“I actually enjoyed attending the meeting, I’m not angry at all,” Paris said. “City managers are walking, talking, living, breathing, lightning rods. You have to absorb the bolts, move one, try and stay and do something positive.”

And Paris hopes breaking bread together may at least create understanding.

WBTV did ask Craig Pierce if he would be willing to accept the invitation from Paris. He hasn’t replied as of yet.