by John Grooms
Yesterday, Charlotte City Center Partners CEO Michael Smith served up a hot, steaming dish of galling irony that should not go unreported and unremarked upon. Smiths group, among other ideas, wants the county to spend $10 million to build Romare Bearden Park in Third Ward in time for the Democratic convention in 2012. Never mind that this comes a mere two weeks after the Uptown wowsers said local taxpayers would not pay a dime for the DNC coming to town. What I'm getting at is Smith, who is quoted in todays Observer as saying the park is needed because "Urban parks are the building blocks of great urban places." I agree 100 percent with that view of the importance of urban parks. But it's really too bad Smith didn't think that way in 2005. This is the same Michael Smith who effectively wrecked the county's original, voter-approved plans for a large, approximately 8-acre park in Third Ward when he came up with a complicated land swap deal to bring the Knights minor league baseball team to Uptown a deal that has floundered for six years and obviously isnt going to happen. Now, thanks to Smith's plan, its too late to build the original, larger park; Smiths fabulous 2005 brainstorm called for Romare Bearden Park to take up only 4.5 acres, with the rest of the original park acreage sacrificed to some developers profits. Now that Smith is wetting his pants over the DemCon, however, hes suddenly in a hurry to build a half-sized version of the large park that we would probably already be enjoying if his 2005 vision hadnt ruined it. I know that boosters, wowsers and business glad-handers generally dont have a great sense of irony, nor of shame, but, well, to coin a phrase, god-DAM.