Xpress presents a cyber-eye on the park

With the multimillion dollar remodeling of the park in the center of Asheville, and an ongoing controversy about a disputed piece of property at the park’s edge, there’s been no shortage of news in the city’s heart. Now here’s a way to keep track of it: the new Mountain Xpress Web cam.

For weeks, Xpress has been exploring the possibility of pointing a Web cam at the magnolia tree, which has been at the center of a dispute over Buncombe County’s sale of a chunk of land to developer Stewart Coleman. George Pack donated that land to Buncombe County around the turn of the century, and Pack’s heirs sued Buncombe County and Coleman’s company, Black Dog Realty, declaring that the sale was illegal because the property had always been intended for public use.

On Monday, a judge heard arguments in the case, and Thursday, both sides said the judge planned to rule that the sale of the land was improper. The judge has yet to sign an order making her decision official.

Meanwhile, the park itself is a jumble of heavy equipment and hard-hatted construction workers. Known as City/County Plaza for years, the park that extends from the front steps of Asheville City Hall and the Buncombe County Courthouse up to the Vance Monument on Pack Square is getting a $22 million makeover and a new name — Pack Square Park.

All of which led us at Xpress to seek a way to document it all. Thus, the Web cam. With the gracious cooperation of Anthony Fiore, proprietor of Fiore’s Ristorante on College Street directly across from the action, an Xpress geek squad installed an ever-vigilant cyber-eye in a restaurant window and trained it on the park.

It’s all been done to keep you, Xpress readers, the most up-to-date on the happenings in the heart of Asheville. We hope you’ll watch with us.

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

12 thoughts on “Xpress presents a cyber-eye on the park

  1. Never fear, for we resolute Magnolia Watchers remain vigilant at the tree until and following Judge Hyatt signing her order re-establishing the land for public use only :-)

    We thank the hundreds and thousands who helped us save the tree and get our parkland back!

    We encourage folks committed to continuing to protect the tree to do so night and day — to ensure the magnolia stays safe from retributional violence as a result of Hyatt’s ruling on the people’s behalf.

    Blessed be!

  2. Don’t put it passed some disgruntled, wealthy artsy-fartsy investor from Atlanta driving up to slash the tree when they find out that their back room sweetheart deal fell apart and now their penthouse suite overlooking the Performing Arts Center is gone.

  3. Jimbo

    “We thank the hundreds and thousands who helped us save the tree and get our parkland back!”

    There it is. You just knew the witches and whack jobs were going to take full credit for the Pack Family’s legal success. When are some of the people in this town going to remove their collective heads from their butts?

    The legal ruling is great, but don’t for one minute try to connect yourself with the delusional notion that a group of needy, attention craving middle aged emo kids are the reason for the ruling or that they represent even a tiny fraction of the intelligent minded citizens of this community who were in opposition to this project as planned. As usual, that is another insult and disservice to citizens who make a real contribution and rational argument for change despite the distractions and off topic antics carried out by some childish individuals.

  4. Hiya Jimbo,

    I think you’re right that none of the opposition affected the judge’s ruling. That was simply based on the facts of the deed, which the opposition had been pointing out all along.

    What the opposition accomplished was slowing Coleman’s construction plan. Without the broad, principled opposition to this project, Coleman would already have his foundation poured, and this decision would have been too heartbreakingly late.

    And, to remind you about who opposed this project, here’s a partial list:

    Asheville Downtown Association
    Asheville City Council
    Coven Oldenwilde
    Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods
    Democracy for America
    Buncombe County Democratic Party
    Mountain Voices Alliance
    Asheville Tree Commission
    Buncombe County Commission
    Asheville Preservation Society
    plus another four of ive civic organizations and the 7,000+ people who signed the petition.

    Despite the Coleman acolytes’ need to constantly disparage the opposition to this project, we were in the right. It was our efforts that slowed Coleman’s project long enough to allow the court to rule.

  5. Jimbo: Thanking folks for giving their time to help save the park and the magnolia is not taking credit for skith.

    Gordon: Actually, several lawyers told us that our packing the court twice in one day with Parkside opposers wearing Save the Magnolia T-shirts, Stop Parkside stickers, and sprorting “We Screwed Up” fans deeply affected Judge Hyatt ;-)

    Actually, over 9.000 folks signed the Stop Parkside petition.

  6. Gordon: We just did what Ferikas asked us to do (pack the court with concerned citizens).

    I was tree-sitting at the time, but by all accounts, Hyatt did a double-take when she saw the throng.

  7. Well he certainly knows more about it than I do. Congratulations all around for those who put their energy into every nook and cranny of possibility to create this groundswell of opposition that righted a wrong.

    Cheers, Lady Passion.

  8. I totally understand what you mean Gordon, about preferring dispassionate judges as a rule.

    But in this case, if the judge had not taken the matter in its proper and full context as an issue that the people were very passionate about, we might have needlessly lost (everyone’s just so obsequious when it comes to developers, it seems).

    Thanks for cheers and back at you: Hail Gordon for posting so much helpful info on ScrooHoo!!!

    I’m proud to know you, man!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.