Smoke clears in dust-up over pedestrian bridge

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Molly Leight
Molly Leight

Fears that a local owner of the Winston-Salem Dash is trying to persuade the state Department of Transportation to remove a pedestrian bridge linking the West Salem neighborhood to the burgeoning area around the ballpark have been allayed.

Two days after Councilwoman Molly Leight sounded an alarm in an email on Tuesday night, she said she has received assurances that “whatever little bit of smoke there was is not going to turn into a big fire.”

Leight, who represents the South Ward, wrote on Tuesday: “Now I hear that a big-money stakeholder in the ballpark area development (who could that possibly be?) wants to tear down the Green Street overpass completely, presumably to keep the riffraff (that is us South Warders) from accessing the high-end development he has planned for the area.”

Billy Prim, who also owns Primo Water Corp., is the majority owner of a real-estate holding company with land near the ballpark. Samet Corp. is currently building apartments with rental prices running from $950 to $1,500 per month.

Courtesy of Google Maps
Courtesy of Google Maps

“We, the southern riffraff, supported the stadium; we riffraff are the closest communities to the ballpark; we are the ones in whose backyards the games and fireworks takes place,” Leight wrote. “Someone wants to cut off our access? Not a chance!

“I urge you all to scream bloody murder! Inundate the office of the State DOT Engineer (Mr. Pat Ivey, 375 Silas Creek Parkway, W-S, NC 27127) with vehement objections to a self-serving interest trying to take precedence over the good of the neighborhoods around the ballpark and the plan that has evolved over years of public meetings and input,” she continued.

Asked about the provenance of the rumors that Prim and his associates have been trying to persuade the state Department of Transportation to remove the pedestrian bridge, Leight gave a cryptic response in a phone message to Triad City Beat.

“I can’t imagine that it came from any place other than the horse’s mouth,” she said. “The fact is that people obviously had heard that, including Mr. Ivey with the DOT, including city staff, so where that all came from I can’t imagine it was made up of whole cloth.

“But whatever the case, the uproar about it has caused it to die down to the point of reassurances from everybody that that will absolutely not happen,” Leight added. “In fact, the city council voted on the plan for the exits, but no matter which plan it was, it did include Green Street as a pedestrian bridge. I think whatever little bit of smoke there was is not going to turn into a big fire.”