At the Nov. 12 Asheville City Council meeting – the last meeting held before new members (and a new mayor) are sworn in — current Mayor Terry Bellamy addressed the filled Council Chambers.
“Being mayor of this city has been a blessing. It hasn’t been easy — no,” Bellamy said, dragging out the word “no” with a smile. “But I am extremely grateful to have had this honor to be here. … Tonight I have a heart filled with gratitude. I am so grateful to have been mayor of this wonderful city.”
Following her speech, the room stood and applauded Bellamy’s words. In other developments at the meeting:
• Assistant City Attorney Jannice Ashley addressed the Council, focusing on a state law that went into effect Oct. 1; it omits playgrounds and athletic fields (while not currently in use) from the official definition of “recreational facilities,” therefore not protecting these areas from laws prohibiting concealed handguns. The city ordinance was changed to bring Asheville in line with state law.
Councilman Jan Davis spoke on the issue, saying the recent headlines have provoked unnecessary concern to citizens of Asheville. “It’s disturbing to me that this morning’s headline in the Asheville Citizen-Times may look as though the Council was enabling the carrying of handguns in recreational areas,” Davis said. “We’re doing the best job we can to protect our children and our citizens who use recreational areas.”
Councilman Cecil Bothwell added, “It’s a shame that it’s been presented as if we’ve somehow been loosening the rules. What we’re doing is trying to preserve as much control as we can preserve under the idiotic laws passed by our state legislature.”
The motion to revise the definition of recreational facilities to include both playgrounds and not-in-use athletic fields carried unanimously. However the Council approved a resolution of opposition to the General Assembly, which declares Asheville’s “outrage and condemnation” for the change in the law.
• A public hearing for an amendment to the construction plan for A-B Tech’s new health and workforce development facility passed unanimously, after Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton weighed in on the issue. “We basically went through a redesign process, and I personally think we came up with a better building — one that doesn’t impact the surrounding community like it did.”
He also noted what he believed to be “the most important part” of the redesign as the new plan’s proximity to Victoria Road, rather than having the building sit farther back on the campus. “You actually know you’re on campus now,” he said. “I think now there’s a sense of ‘OK — I’ve arrived.’”