There has been no shortage of stances in the I-26 connector debate. Resolutions have been passed, endorsements made. Buncombe County and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce have supported the option known as Alternative 3. Asheville City Council and several community groups and developers have backed the Asheville Design Center-initiated Alternative 4b. (See Xpress ongoing coverage at www.mountainx.com/topics/find/I-26).
Now a group of community members is asking Asheville residents to attach their names to the cause. Several Asheville residents, including some living in and near the Burton Street neighborhood, are drafting a petition firmly in support of Alternative 4b. The historically African-American neighborhood would be heavily affected by the adoption of Alternative 3.
“There’s a lot of history there, and there’s a lot of families there,” says Austin Hill, an A-B Tech student and WPVM volunteer who lives near the neighborhood and is helping draft the petition.
The draft praises 4B for its separation of local and interstate traffic and for providing a renewed connectivity between West Asheville and downtown.
All of that, says Hill, figures into the language put to paper so far, which calls for an I-26 plan that “places the fostering and preservation of community as the primary considerations from which all other decisions are made.”
The group is still hashing out the final language and working on disseminating the petition through print and online outlets, and plans to have a final draft circulating within a week.