Time to be daring

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By Staff
At first thought, the notion of a trapeze school on Washington’s waterfront may sound like a pie-in-the-sky proposition.
Then again, a trapeze school could complement what the city’s waterfront offers residents and visitors alike. The waterfront itself attracts plenty of people. It looks like that waterfront will be home to The Spirit of Washington, an 85-foot-long ship that can be used for entertaining river cruises. Sailing classes and sailboat races likely will become a common sight off Washington’s waterfront.
A trapeze school would bring something rather unique to the waterfront.
Doug and Adrian Soloman, who presented their proposal to open the Inner Banks Trapeze School to the City Council last week, mentioned several advantages the trapeze school would bring to Washington. They include, but are not limited to, the following: broad appeal to a wide age range, nothing like it on the East Coast between Florida and Baltimore, visually attractive, appeals to participants and spectators, attracts tourists, great activity to market to groups visiting the city and can be used for fundraising events.
The Solomans believe the green space between the former McQuay and Maola buildings and the waterfront promenade would be a great place for the trapeze school. A flat piece of land, 150 feet by 75 feet is needed for the school.
The proposed site for the trapeze school in Washington would require additional lighting and an 8-foot-tall chain-link fence, according to the Solomans. The school requires no permanent structure, with its poles, nets, guy wires, bars and other equipment being easy to disassemble, they noted.
The council wants the Planning Board, Historic Preservation Commission and Recreation Advisory Committee to review, comment and make recommendations on the Solomans’ proposal. That’s reasonable.
Those bodies and the council, which has the final say on the proposal, should find a way to make the trapeze school happen, not prevent it, if possible. They should make sure the city is protected from liability issues, after all, people participating in a trapeze school are taking risks. They also would be having fun, if one considers “flying through the air with the greatest of ease” being fun.
In recent years, the term “think outside the box” has come into vogue. Well, a trapeze school on Washington’s waterfront would most definitely be “outside the box.”
Would the trapeze school flourish, become a permanent part of Washington’s waterfront? Would the novelty of such an attraction wear off after several years? Only by giving the trapeze school a chance will the answers to those questions be determined. Because the trapeze school does not require a permanent structure, there would be no permanent “leftovers” if the school does not pan out as expected. The site that once housed the trapeze school could be used for other purposes.
Doug Soloman acknowledges there has been no study conducted to determine if a trapeze school is feasible in Washington. As long as the Solomans are willing to take a risk and there is little or no risk to the city, why not let the Solomans see if their proposal to open a trapeze school on the banks of the Pamlico River will fly?
It is time the city became a little daring, like that “flying young man on the flying trapeze.”