How do you gracefully back out of an unpopular proposal?
“A proclamation that we’re not going to sell Memorial Stadium would be helpful at this point,” suggested Asheville City Council member Chuck Cloninger on May 19.
Council members had just heard Parks and Recreation Director Irby Brinson‘s final recommendation concerning the stadium and the five flat acres that surround it: Don’t sell.
A few months earlier, Brinson had recommended selling the stadium, and the entire 21 acres around it, to developer Robert Camille for $1.5 million — enough money to pay for a baseball complex at the city’s Richmond Hill property, as well as refurbish a playground next to the old stadium at Morningside Park.
However, city residents opposed the deal, and Council subsequently declined Camille’s offer. Then Vice Mayor Ed Hay got the idea of selling just the flat portion of the land. Staff had the parcel appraised at about $500,000 and, then, put out the word that it was for sale.
There were no ensuing offers, said Brinson.
And, in the interim, the city unveiled its new long-range Parks and Recreation Master Plan — which recommends keeping Memorial, now used for rugby, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee and youth football.
Council members managed to take the hints. Hay withdrew his idea, and fellow Council members agreed to put the whole subject to rest. They directed staff to consider improvements for Memorial, in conjunction with the overall Master Plan.