Buice column: Clemmons residents let their feelings known

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2021

When the Clemmons Village Council got word about the possibility of a 50,000-square-foot agricultural multi-use event center coming to Tanglewood Park, the council immediately formed a committee in last Monday night’s meeting to reach out to Forsyth County to find out “what is going on.”

Michelle Barson and Mary Cameron, the two council members who agreed to serve on the committee, found out what they needed to know two nights later when the county held a community meeting at the Red Barn at Tanglewood.

What they heard was a unified voice of Clemmons residents vehemently speaking out against placing this huge building in the middle of a park that is considered a “tranquil oasis” and community treasure.

“I think we’re out of a job,” Cameron said after the meeting. “I think (the county) got the message.”

Barson added, “She has recommended, and I agree, that we wait to see how the next public meeting goes before taking any additional steps as (county manager) Dudley Watts said that if we did not want it they would not build it.”

That meeting was scheduled for this Wednesday (after this week’s newspaper publication deadline) at the Forsyth County Government Center, but nothing can erase what Watts and other members of county staff heard at the Red Barn.

The list of reasons for opposing such a center includes disrupting the overall character of a park known for green space, trees and trails that cater to those walking, jogging and riding bikes along with a wide range of recreation activities (such as golf, tennis and swimming), shelters for picnics and gatherings, and many other offerings.

Then there’s the potential devastating impact on property values in Clemmons West, which is right next door, flooding and stormwater issues, more traffic in an area that is already overrun with it, etc., etc.

What many didn’t know was that this project was part of a parks and recreation bond referendum that was approved five years ago. County officials proposed a site for the center at Tanglewood in a November 2020 meeting, but it seemed to fly under the radar and nothing else was mentioned until a story in the Winston-Salem Journal a couple of weeks ago reported that Forsyth County was considering a big event center at Tanglewood located near the horse stables.

When some Clemmons residents learned what was going on, they voiced their concerns to the county commissioners at that week’s briefing and a through a barrage of e-mails and later a petition — prompting the county to back off for now.

Many in the full house gathered in the Red Barn expressing their outrage about not learning about this plan until the last minute.

“I may be speaking for myself, but has anyone else in here known about this project for more than a week?” one man asked. The crowd answered in unison: “No.”

A woman commented: “I don’t think any of us that voted for that bond even thought you were going to put this kind of thing in this park.”

Watts fielded a verbal barrage of questions and comments for more than an hour, and ultimately said, “We will not put it here if you don’t want it,” which was greeted by the loudest applause of the night.

Certainly, many more conservations are ahead — and they need to be — but Clemmons was heard.

“Pretty crystal clear here,” Watts admitted.

Stay tuned for the next step.

• • • • •

Maybe it will never be like Duke vs. Carolina in college basketball, Red Sox-Yankees in Major League Baseball or Cowboys-Redskins in the NFL, but a pair of local Minor League Baseball teams are doing their best to create another big rivalry.

They’re calling it the Battle Of I-40 — as in the Winston-Salem Dash vs. the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

It’s certainly been a long time in coming. The two cities, with teams that are just separated by 30-some miles, haven’t played in more than 50 years but have finally got back on the field together with this year’s realignment of the minor leagues.

Unlike the last meeting in 1968, both teams now have wonderful downtown stadiums, and they are playing 24 games against each other. It breaks down to two weeks where each team hosts a six-game series from Tuesday through Sunday.

Being the baseball geek that I am, I’ve had the opportunity to get to several games in both towns. As the calendar has shifted to August, the teams just completed their third overall week of head-to-head battles with the Grasshoppers leading 11-7.

If you haven’t been able to make it out to the ballpark to see the new rivals play, there’s one more opportunity when the Dash plays host to the Hoppers Aug. 10-15.

I lived in or around Winston-Salem most of my life, but I worked in Greensboro for almost 25 years, so I’m fond of both cities and root for both — although I’m a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan and the Hoppers are their minor-league affiliate — and they have some of their top prospects.

But I’m also become a fan of the White Sox, who are the parent club for the Dash. It’s been neat to see some of their former players play here — including budding MLB stars Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, who came through recently on rehab assignments.

It’s always a good night at the old ballpark and even better with the two Triad teams playing against each other for a change.