When Public Information Officer Laurie Saxton returned from the Buncombe County Commissioner’s meeting on June 24 and reported to Asheville City Council that the commission had asked the city to explore a land swap to rectify the Parkside situation, the response was dubious, at best.
“The county’s thrown the ball up in the air, and I think they are hoping it will land somewhere over here,” said Vice Mayor Jan Davis.
It was only two weeks ago that Council passed a resolution condemning the initial sale by Buncombe County of the parkland to developer Stewart Coleman. In closed-session meetings, Council members have also resisted the idea of a land swap for city-owned property on Marjorie Street.
Meanwhile, Mayor Terry Bellamy said that Coleman has not been present for any conversations with the city, a situation she would like to see changed.
Council member Robin Cape dismissed the county’s resolution, calling it what it requested an “impossibility,” given the time restrains. And Council member Brownie Newman broached the idea of a lawsuit, saying, “I believe the development of that building in its current configuration would be a tragedy. …I am open to the city taking legal action challenging the sale. It would say a lot for the city of Asheville to side with the citizens who started that effort.”
Council voted 5-1 (Council member Holly Jones voted “no”) to encourage Buncombe County to continue to try to resolve the situation, and to postpone further conversation on Parkside until July 15 while it tries to make contact with Coleman.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer