Sunday, October 29, 2006

Keeping Faith

The column below appeared in this morning's News & Record; I wrote it in collaboration with Benjamin Briggs, Executive Director of Preservation Greensboro, Tracy Lamothe, a preservationist, entrepreneur, and stay-at-home mom of 3, and Greg Woodard, a retired Navy veteran and captain of VFW post 2087.

Keeping Faith

In declining to endorse the War Memorial baseball stadium bond, The News & Record wrote that replacing it with a monument of another kind would "serve the purpose [of memorializing World War I veterans] just as well."

That's not what the veterans thought.

At the stadium's dedication in 1926, mayor Edwin Jeffress said, "The soldier boys said they wanted no hollow granite, no useless monument to decorate our street corners, even no statuary or brass to remind us of those who have passed along after doing life’s full duty. But they wanted something that would be useful; that would help develop mind and body; that would in this way be a perpetual memorial to those who have passed."

In other words, the News & Record proposes that we replace the stadium with exactly the kind of "useless monument" that the veterans said that they did not want.

The 200 games a year that the stadium currently hosts assure that a renovated stadium will be well used, in the way it was intended to be used, for the forseeable future. The proposed improvements -- new locker rooms, indoor batting facilities, restrooms, and concessions -- will only make the stadium more attractive for regional tournaments.

The News & Record also suggested that a less-expensive option for repairing the stadium is preferable to the one that is on the bond referendum.

But that option was woefully inadequate. It included no seating whatsoever on the third base side of home plate, and proposed to leave the now-deteriorated 3rd-baseline seating in place, cordoned off, just rotting away. How could a partial ruin with bad seating be a fitting war memorial or even a decent sports venue?

Finally, the News & Record wrote that this isn't the "ninth inning" for the old stadium. Really? The stadium is now very seriously deteriorated, and repairs are not going to get less expensive. If this bond fails, there is no reasonable likelihood that adequate funds can be raised for repairs.

For about the cost of single a loaf of bread bought annally for 15 years, the average Greensboro voter can keep faith with the 80 Guilford County citizens who gave their lives for their country, and preserve North Carolina's last living and active World War I memorial.

Or voters can break that faith, and pay later to have the memorial demolished and hauled to the landfill.


Jim Rosenberg said...

Absolutely pitch-perfect to write it collaboratively as you did. It made the point for me even before I read the first word. I feel the N&R editorial page is so very lost -- pointing out the obvious, rubbernecking at crime scenes, paving paths to nowhere, failing to lead. Well done.

Anonymous said...

You probably don't need the indoor batting cages - the ones already there beyond the fence do OK - but that's a minor point.

Too bad I can't vote on this.

David Wharton said...

The indoor batting facility is actually an important component of the renovation for NCA&T and Greensboro College, who practice and play there.

Their competitors have indoor batting facilities, and they want to compete.

Anonymous said...

Not complaining (I'll use 'em), but I think it's a new phenomenon. UNCG's indoor cages were part of the softball stadium and my alma mater, UF, is installing them in an upgrade this year.

Good luck next Tuesday.