The Parkway was made to view nature, not buildings

The proposed overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway of downtown Asheville is a horrific idea [“Skyline Item,Aug. 24 Xpress].

While I can certainly understand the perceived potential for increased revenue that might be gleaned, it is doubtful that we would see much difference; Asheville is heavily advertised already.

An overlook of a city would be in direct contrast to what the Parkway was intended for. The Parkway is a gateway for citizens to experience and view the majestic mountains that surround us, not to view manmade buildings. This has the potential to set a very bad precedent which could lead to other cities requesting their own overlooks, further detracting from the natural beauty that abounds along the Parkway.

We need to protect this natural treasure, not spoil it in a poorly planned and seemingly desperate attempt to boost tourism. The Parkway’s resources are already limited and they have enough trouble maintaining the overlooks currently in existence. I'd rather see my tax dollars used to fund programs with some tangible or measurable results that will enhance the lives of our citizens without damaging such a precious resource.

— David Long
Asheville

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16 thoughts on “The Parkway was made to view nature, not buildings

  1. Johnny

    Mtn Xpress staff: Would it be difficult to add links to prior letters/articles that are referenced in the Letters section?

  2. Jeff Fobes

    Good point, Johnny. I’ve added the link in this case. Let’s see how much better we can do. Do keep in mind, though, that Xpress staffers are a hard-working bunch, blogging, tweeting, reporting and being a part of the civic conversation — and they do need to have some time off.

  3. bill smith

    [b]and they do need to have some time off. [/b]

    adding hyperlinks does take hours and hours.

  4. bill smith

    [b]The Parkway is a gateway for citizens to experience and view the majestic mountains that surround us, not to view manmade buildings.[/b]

    That seems silly. Should a few trees remain to block the view of Asheville to perpetuate the facade you find most endearing? Remember, you ARE there in a car driving on pavement. You want the facade of being lot in nature, go on a hike.

  5. David Long

    “That seems silly. Should a few trees remain to block the view of Asheville to perpetuate the facade you find most endearing? Remember, you ARE there in a car driving on pavement. You want the facade of being lot in nature, go on a hike. ”

    With all due respect Bill, I am an avid hiker and I use the Parkway expressly to access the trails where I hike, not for the facade of being in nature as you have so sarcasticly implied. But I do enjoy the amazing views of our mountains during my ride to the trailhead of my choosing. You might also want to consider that some individuals, such as the disabled, cannot access those trails and rely on the Parkway as a means of enjoying those splendid views. This is a precious resource and it needs to be protected. I’m sorry you cannot comprehend such a simple issue, but one overlook here will undoubtedly lead to others along the Parkway. Eventually it will be ruined as more and more cities demand their own “vista” because Asheville has one.

  6. Fact Checker

    Mr. Long’s view of “what the Parkway was intended for” may not be the views of its founders. Mr. Long seems to be confident that the purpose of the Parkway “is a gateway for citizens to experience and view the majestic mountains that surround us, not to view manmade buildings.” Stanley Abbott, the landscape architect who oversaw planning for the project, had a more comprehensive vision. “Abbott’s role in the Parkway’s development was all encompassing. He promoted the concept of the Parkway as a chain of parks and recreational areas, each a destination in itself. He also suggested preserving views beyond the Parkway boundaries through the use of scenic easements and presented the motorist with carefully crafted, ever-changing pictures of Appalachian scenery and culture.” So the Parkway doesn’t seem to have been intended simply to “view the majestic mountains that surround us.” “Ever-changing pictures of Appalachian scenery and culture” could include views of its towns and cities and its “manmade buildings.” To learn more: http://blueridgeparkway75.org/more-than-a-road/history

  7. David Long

    “It is an elongated park, protecting significant mountain landscapes far beyond the shoulders of the road itself. It is a series of parks providing the visitor access to high mountain passes, splendid natural “gardens” of flowering mountain plants, waterfalls and water gaps, deep forests and upland meadows. It is a continuous series of panoramic views, the boundaries of its limited right-of-way rarely apparent and miles of the adjacent countryside seemingly a part of the protected scene.”

    Here’s a direct quote from your link, Fact Checker regarding the purpose of the Parkway. Doesn’t really sound like a place one would expect to see a city. Granted, there could be room in some other place for interpretation but I feel confident that it’s primary purpose was to provide a gateway to viewing and experiencing nature. The above description pretty well says just that and describes a protected scene. Adding such an overlook would not be protecting that scene in my opinion.

  8. Big Al

    The stereotypical “mountain scenes” that most tourists expect from parkways like the BRP include church steeples, log cabins, barns, split-rail fences, domesticated farm animals and other man-made ingredients of rural life, not just pure wilderness.

    As for a city view, in the rare occasion that the BRP does come near a city, especially one like Asheville with its’ distinctive architecture (City Hall, the catholic cathedral, First Baptist Church’s dome), an overlook makes very good sense.

    Hyperbole such as “horrendous”, “poorly planned and seemingly desperate” and “damaging such a precious resource” is just silly. We are not talking about clear-cutting here.

  9. bill smith

    What I don’t understand or agree with, Mr Long, is this notion that a nice overlook of a nice-looking city somehow detracts from your ‘wilderness experience’. Is that experience ruined by planes overhead? Is it ruined by the cars driving by? Why is seeing a city such a horrible thing in your experience?

    As for your notion of a slippery slope, what other possible overlooks are you scared of becoming a reality?

    I agree with Al. Much of your perspective sounds quite hyperbolic. You make it sound as if someone is building a starbucks at Shining Rock.

  10. hauntedheadnc

    Frankly, this seems like more of that “Asheville would be so much nicer without this damn city in the middle of it” hyperbole you always here whenever anyone wants to build anything downtown.

    Considering that Asheville is actually a city worth looking at, I don’t really see a problem with an overlook. It’s rare that you get to see a really good skyline view of Asheville from an easily accessible vantage point.

  11. Lisa Watters

    I personally would love to see my little city from the vantage point of the Parkway.

  12. David Long

    I can respect all of your opinions even though I do not agree with them. And I certainly won’t lower myself to the level some of you have chosen in dismissing another’s concerns as being “silly”. I’ve made a valid argument for my opinion and stand by it. If you disagree that’s fine. Some of you have made valid points as well, specifically with regard to the unique architecture in Asheville. However, Asheville is still not a rural landscape and does not belong on the Parkway. It is a city. If some structures such as “church steeples, log cabins, barns”, etc. were included that would still be a far cry from a city. Those types of structures would not necessarily detract from Appalachian scenery and culture. However, a city overlook would simply not be appropriate on the Parkway as people use the Parkway as a means of distancing themselves from metropolitan areas. The description of the Parkway I quoted above (from the link provided courtesy of Fact Checker) does not seem to include urban areas. I find it unfortunate that many on here seem so eager to urbanize the Parkway. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. As for a slippery slope argument, I don’t believe it is. It’s not unreasonable to consider the possibility that other cities/municipalities may attempt to aquire their own overlooks. I think it’s safe to say that would be a logical occurance should Asheville be granted this overlook. And no, I do not believe they’ll be clearcutting or “building a starbucks” in the middle of the Parkway, but damaging the natural beauty of the area is nothing short of litter in my opinion. And I’m entitled to my opinion just as you are all entitled to your own.

  13. Lori Stepp

    I like the parkway because it’s really green, there aren’t any traffic lights and it’s a lovely way to travel through my native mountains. I don’t travel on it to see Asheville or any other town and I really don’t think anyone else does either. We can argue all we want to but being able to see Asheville will not bring any money into Asheville and so it’s a waste of public funding. Of course, if the people that have been so nasty on here want to fund the project from their own pockets, I can find no objections to that.

  14. Brendon Treible

    I must agree with Mr. Long when it comes to this issue. While I do agree that an overlook of Asheville would indeed detract from the natural splendor of the BRP, I also believe that it is a waste of money; money that could be used to improve other parts of the parkway, such as improving existing trails and campsites or adding new ones, clean up, or even another overlook that isnt simply made to view an entire town. Better yet, don’t add anything. Keep it simple, keep it natural, keep it beautiful.

  15. bill smith

    [b]keep it natural[/b]

    So, remove the road, trails and campsites and parking?

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