When Timepiece Park officially opens in a couple weeks, it will mark a significant point in downtown Charlotte’s revitalization efforts. For all its lightning rod qualities, its ability to spark passionate conversations about city funds, street conditions, and aesthetic appeal, the pocket park was the project that moved the community from talking and planning into action.

It was the project in the community that galvanized a downtown business district, drawing private donations from many sources. It was the foresight displayed by a number of local entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity, and like all good entrepreneurs do, they capitalized on it. 

Donations exceeded $30,000 — enough to purchase a blighted building, and community eyesore and gift it to the city. Donors believed a pocket park would signify the positive growth for which downtown Charlotte was yearning.

Timepiece Park is what revitalization in Charlotte should look like — private citizens, business owners, and city officials working together on ways to reenergize our community.

The plans may have taken longer to come together than expected, which is part of the reason the pocket park was such a hot topic. The bright yellow, and pastel spattered building stayed up longer than anyone really wanted. But, these kinds of projects take time … and money.

The cost of the park has been a constant topic for local fodder. But, consider if you will, the actual cost.

When complete, Timepiece Park will come in at about $215,000. A lot for a small concrete park, for sure. Of that cost, however, $10,000 came from a Public Art for Communities grant from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and PNC Foundation. Another $25,000 came from a Made on Main Street grant from One Main Financial, and the Main Street America organization. Still $10,000 more came from a grant from the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Close to $10,000 will come from a private citizen. Adding to all the private and grant funds is the Capital Region Community Foundation, which awarded the project a $75,000 Impact grant. 

That’s $130,000 of the $215,000 that came from grant funds or private donations, not counting the $30,000-plus donated to purchase the property. The city would have spent $85,000 or close to it just to demolish the building and put in a five- or six-space parking lot. 

Instead the community gets a new gathering place; a showcase for another piece of public art; a place to stop and warm by the fire on a cool evening; a place the community can and should feel good about.

Sure, it would have been nice if the park could have included an abundance of green space. Unfortunately, the contamination left by the former dry cleaner made that impossible. But, designers have done their best to include as much green space as possible.

Plans for the park’s official dedication are still coming together, though Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (Can Do!) has planned to hold its September meeting the park on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. All are invited.