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Stick a feather in this cap and call it baloney

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

Is this a great city or what?

So great is our ambition, we're thinking about taking on the greatest cover-up since the utterance of “tabloid trash.”

We're thinking about building an uptown bridge three blocks wide – called a “cap” – over Belk Gulch. And putting a park on top.

We're not thinking of this because it is easy. We're thinking of this because we've been hit by a burst from a Martian Moron Ray.

That's my theory. I doubt you can do better.

Fact: Belk Freeway burrows through the granite underlands of uptown.

Fact: It is an unsightly chasm, except at night, when it is dark as the Pacific Trench because we can't figure out how to fix the streetlights.

Fact: There is simply no relaxing nature trail between the Goodyear Tire store on the south rim to the Ascot Inn hotel, featuring romantic suites from $69.99, on the north.

Solution: Build a big flat park.

Benefit:

OK, you got me there.

No, no, wait. I feel the Ray again.

Benefit: Naming rights.

See, most people aren't thinking this through. Opponents will grouse that you can't get much in naming rights for a park, particularly one full of dozing vagrants suspended above a growling pit of truck exhaust. But they're missing the big opportunity.

With an air park like this one, you also get a tunnel. Tunnels are exciting. Tunnels say “muscle.” It is a civic embarrassment that a city this size has no tunnel. Paris, Pittsburgh – the list goes on. A tunnel would bring big naming rights.

Wachovia Tunnel (“Haven't hit bottom yet”). Bobcats Tube (“Now this is the cellar”).

Or we can go with signs honoring prominent politicians. John Edwards Tunnel of Love. Jesse Helms Tunnel – Keep Right.

Benefit: Tourism.

Nobody seems to understand that we're about to be overrun by tourists coming to worship at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We need to prepare. It could last for weeks.

What will the pilgrims want to do after a long day of looking at the bodies of stock cars and former Miss Winstons?

Exactly. They will want a shady spot to sit down and mutter, “What a ripoff!” Then they can wander the urban park with their children and get panhandled. This will provide an unforgettable interactive experience for our visitors.

Benefit: Tort Reform.

Follow me closely here. We go to the guy who keeps holding up our uptown minor league stadium with frivolous lawsuits because he's sore it's on land he thinks should be a park and, anyway, he thinks we can get a major league team.

We tell him that even though three judges, all the sports fans, all the uptown merchants, all the powers of responsible development and all the children of the world yet unborn think he's wrong – pig-headed wrong – we're going to do him right.

We're going to build him a park. In the air.

It shall be the Jerry Reese Imagination Park. And when Major League Baseball is ready to give us a franchise, it is there we will build his major league stadium.

But first, another dose of the Ray.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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