In a surprise move, Asheville City Council came out of closed session on April 1 to announce the sale of the Vance Monument for $1 billion.
“This is a great day for the city,” said Vice Mayor Ed Hayword. “With that money, we can build a Six Flags over Asheville at Richmond Hill — and still have enough left over to buy that golf course on the French Broad.”
“Heck, we’ll have enough money to redirect the path of the French Broad, so it doesn’t flood the golf course ever again,” declared Council member Timmy Soldem.
But who’s the big kahuna with the bag of bucks?
None other than Star Wars producer George Lucas. Reached via satellite at his new lunar mansion, Lucas remarked, “It’s no big deal, really. I’m going to beam the monument up here to the moon, where I’ve built a virtual-reality studio for my next film, Star Wars XV.” Lucas says he can afford to buy the monolith because he doesn’t have to pay actors anymore: He uses computer-generated, “virtual” people in all his new films.
He wouldn’t disclose what he plans to use the monument for.
Asheville Mayor Leni Parknik opposed the sale, complaining, “We’re going to miss that big obelisk when it’s gone. I mean, where can you get another one that size?”
Council member Chucky Dillinger also voted against selling the monument, remarking, “We coulda got a lot more for that big piece of rock. I asked Council to let my guys talk to Lucas, but they didn’t go for it.”
Dillinger and Parknik were outgunned: Hayword’s motion to sell the monument was backed by Council members Soldem, P.T. Times, Barb Roadway and Count Cobb.
“We’ll be able to widen that Patton-and-Biltmore intersection for the first time in decades,” said Roadway. “We’re going to sell the water fountain, too, so the new I-240 link can zip right through town, without the cars getting wet. Our architects will also figure out how to suspend a pedestrian bridge beneath the structure, so people can have a place to walk in the shade,” she added.
Other planned uses for the windfall include: building 10 baseball fields (at the end of the runways at Asheville Airport); hiring Lucas to design virtual horse-drawn carriages to carry center-city kids out to the ballfields; converting half the city’s 400 miles of streets to hiking trails; converting the other half to linear parking lots; adding 10 underground levels to the Civic Center parking deck; and buying cushions for all the chairs in Council’s second-floor chamber room.
To raise still more money, Council members were also debating whether to rent their chambers out for lunch-time aerobics classes. But before making such a historic decision, they voted unanimously to commission a $1 million study of the proposal’s feasibility.