Supporters of a public park on the site of a city-owned lot across the street from the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center are gearing up to present 4,389 signed petitions in favor of a park at the Dec. 8 meeting of City Council.
“I think the overwhelming enthusiasm of all the residents finally having their voice heard
will bring folks out to Council tomorrow,” said Kathleen Lyons on behalf of the Citizens for St. Lawrence Green. “This issue of residents wanting a green space on that property has been ongoing for years now.”
Park supporters have been buoyed by the results of the recent City Council elections, which saw two candidates who supported the park from the beginnings of their campaigns — Brian Haynes and Keith Young — voted into office. Also elected was Julie Mayfield, who initially favored private development with a plaza for the site, but who expanded her position to support a public park if a significant amount of the funding necessary for the creation of the park can be raised. Incumbent Vice Mayor Marc Hunt, who favored a use for the site which would generate property tax revenue for the city, was defeated in his bid for re-election.
Along with longtime park supporter Councilman Cecil Bothwell, the park advocates appear to have a good shot at convincing Council to hold off on developing the property, at least for now.
In an email, Lyons wrote that 765 signatures in favor of the park were submitted via the park supporters’ website, 1,354 were signed on Change.org and 2,270 were collected via door-to-door canvassing. Neighborhoods in which signatures were collected included West Asheville, North Asheville, Downtown, Kenilworth, Five Points and Haw Creek.
“There is another book of signed petitions from a few years ago with an additional 1,746 signatures,” continued Lyons, who said someone would be making a statement on behalf of the group during the public comment period at the end of the Council meeting.