Letter: Bothwell crafts coherent vision of ‘Asheville-tomorrow’

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

This letter is in support of Cecil Bothwell for City Council. I’ve long backed Cecil’s stand to expand homestay regulations to include accessory dwelling unit rentals. In three years of watching Asheville politics — and Cecil — I’ve come to appreciate him as a smart, creative and sometimes cantankerous asset, deeply committed to our city. Always willing to speak up, to champion the new and unexpected. That he also writes novels and songs, sings loudly (and occasionally in tune) and wields a mean hammer should only endear him to us — he’s a man-in-full in the unique Asheville mold.

This letter addresses just one facet of Bothwell’s qualifications: his vision. So many candidates put forth platforms of mumbled terms like “income inequality” and “affordable housing,” then speed on to the next cliché. In contrast, Cecil has crafted a compelling, coherent vision of “Asheville-tomorrow.”

He champions a vibrant future of public transit and an uncrowded, pedestrian-friendly downtown. He would create park-and-ride lots along major corridors into the city. Driverless public conveyances — fare-free public transit — will speed citizens and visitors from less expensive neighborhoods to a congestion-free city center. This is a realistic solution that balances economic realities, affordable and workforce housing, and the quality of life for residents and tourists. Cecil’s philosophy also aims to transform Asheville’s center by “putting parks downtown instead of more hotels or businesses.”

Compare Bothwell’s nuanced vision with the vague statement on Jeremy Goldstein’s website: “Jeremy supports growing Asheville in and up, not out.” This is a prescription for disaster. Buildings that go “up” will be hotels or pricey condos. Imagine the consequences: Increasing downtown density will gridlock our streets and further pollute our air; high-rise units will be unaffordable to all but the affluent; parking will be impossible. It’s no wonder Goldstein has received big-dollar contributions from developers and hoteliers. This can only add to Asheville’s growing reputation as a playground of the wealthy.

Embrace Cecil’s vision for our future: Vote Bothwell on Oct. 10.

— John Farquhar
Asheville

Editor’s note: Farquhar reports that he is volunteering with Bothwell’s campaign.

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12 thoughts on “Letter: Bothwell crafts coherent vision of ‘Asheville-tomorrow’

  1. Lulz

    LOL fare free. I guess when you have taxpayer funded development in the RAD at the expense of everything else, then you also believe money grows on trees.

  2. luther blissett

    “Driverless public conveyances — fare-free public transit — will speed citizens and visitors from less expensive neighborhoods to a congestion-free city center.”

    That reminds me to book tickets to the new Blade Runner movie.

    Cecil’s techno-utopianism is always a jarring contrast from his short-term policy preferences. “We should allow people to rent out their tool sheds to visitors, and by the way, robot people-pods are just around the corner.” How about just plain ordinary buses, with drivers, running more than once an hour?

    The land-use stuff is also weird. Take Joe Minicozzi’s model of economic value, based on revenue per acre: it translates into better returns from infill mixed-use development within the urban core, which requires less infrastructure spending. If you accept Bothwell’s argument that the city shouldn’t be paying off private companies to provide “affordable” housing, then the logical conclusion is to allow high-value mixed-use development (as long as it’s not ugly as sin) and spend the tax revenue elsewhere. We won’t be able to live in those pricy condos, but the owners will be paying for the privilege.

    Downtown has a finite amount of land. Parks and piazzas are nice, but that just makes the remaining buildable land even more valuable to owners and developers. You don’t escape “playground for the wealthy” in that direction.

    • Phillip Williams,

      Mr. Blissett, we often disagree, but I must say you nailed it on this one! Amen and amen.

    • Lulz

      Considering the corruption in the county is just now being exposed, it’s a pretty good guess that the RAD scam along with a bunch of non-profit purveyors who have been funneled into government is just waiting to have the light shined on them. And while Bothwell might not be corrupt, considering the millions more needed to fund the RAD projects came as a shock to him, he is responsible for the waste.

      • luther blissett

        That bee won’t get out of your bonnet, will it? The FBI tip line is open if you have any actual evidence.

        “considering the millions more needed to fund the RAD projects came as a shock to him, he is responsible for the waste.”

        The city hired a local construction company — paid it money — to provide guidance on the costs and how to structure the bidding process. That same contractor then submitted a bid that was $20m over its own guidance, and given the state’s competitive bidding laws, the choice was between accepting that bid or scrapping the project entirely and forfeiting the federal funding.

        What do you suggest the city should have done instead? If it’s “spend no money at all on the RAD”, say it explicitly. I might even agree if you believe it sets a bad precedent to reward private companies who appear to be acting in bad faith.

        • Virginia Daffron

          Hi Luther,

          Thanks for your comment. I wanted to point out a note that’s been added to my article of June 28 reporting on the RADTIP vote by Council (https://mountainx.com/news/smaller-project-bigger-budget-approved-for-rad/):

          “Editor’s note: Subsequent to the publication of this article, members of city staff provided clarification about the nature of Beverly-Grant/Barnhill’s contract for the RADTIP projects. Xpress’ article, as published above, accurately reflects the information provided by the city, in particular at the June 27 meeting of City Council, at the time of publication online on June 28 and in print on July 5. The information provided by the city subsequent to those dates includes:

          BG/B was retained as Construction Manager At-Risk and prepared the final cost estimate for the project as described in the story above. BG/B then managed the bidding process, which involved multiple building contracting companies. As Construction Manager At-Risk, BG/B is responsible for overseeing and managing the RADTIP projects, not actual construction. While BG/B holds the master contract for the project, other companies submitted sealed bids for various portions of the construction work.

          The $76 million figure given by staff members on June 27 also includes the cost of project-related real estate purchases, utility relocation projects and other infrastructure work already completed, and other items. No itemization of the $76 million figure was provided at the June 27 meeting; the city provided additional information in response to public records requests submitted by Xpress on July 3. The results of those requests were provided to Xpress over a period from July 10 to Aug. 14.”

          Although city staff on June 27 did say that the company that provided the cost estimate for the project also was the winning bidder, information that later emerged presented a more complicated picture.

          Virginia

          • Lulz

            Any rational developer would’ve purchased the land before starting the project. And yet we waited a few years here. So that says to me that these property owners were allowed to sit on their parcels for even bigger gains. So who owns these properties that are being bought by the city? Has anyone ever bothered to ask? Of course not.

          • luther blissett

            Thanks for pointing to the update, Virginia. You’re assiduous about this stuff, and I appreciate it.

            I don’t want to play editor, but it may be worth Mx trying to spell out what capital infrastructure bidding entails, with construction managers and contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors and the requirements of state law with competitive bidding. This is going to be an issue for bond projects.

        • Lulz

          LOL the mere fact we’re talking about a few years from the original bid to the final costs in and if itself shows that Bothwell either wasn’t informed about it or was hiding it. Both are bad and shows that on one end he isn’t really keeping up with HIS OWN PET PROJECT or that he was aware if the increasing costs of it and keeping it away from the public.

          Get this into your head Luther and the rest. This isn’t the government’s money. They have no money. It’s our money and to not only see year over year tax and fee increases along with a phony bond to make up for the funneling of money into the RAD and question it is sane. It gets to be insane when bureaucrats are paid hundreds of thousands and no one questions it. Including the media, the leftist establishment, so called progressives, and all the morons who proudly identify themselves as democrats. YOU are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the Wanda Greeds of this area. And I’m sure she isn’t the only one to take advantage of a complacent group of people who go along with whatever their handlers say in order for pats on their heads like dogs.

          • luther blissett

            What do you think is the job of government? This is not a rhetorical question.

  3. NFB

    “Increasing downtown density will gridlock our streets and further pollute our air”

    So will decreasing it. Fewer buildings downtown means people have to drive to get there. Viola! Gridlock on our streets and more air pollution.

    “high-rise units will be unaffordable to all but the affluent;”

    High rise units are already unaffordale to all but the affluent. So are low rise units for that matter. And what is Coucilman Bothwell’s solution for that? Just have all the affordable housing out in the county and viola! Asheville’s “growing reputation as a playground of the wealthy” is solidified.

  4. John Penley

    So far I have not seen any candidate specifically mention that they will do something to honor the City’s pledge to end Veteran’s Homelessness. How about doing it ?

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