Letter: Think about unity and future in Pack Square redesign

Graphic by Lori Deaton

If Asheville and Buncombe citizens are not aware already, the Pack Square Plaza Visioning project is more or less ending its initial phase this month. The design workshop for Pack Square Plaza is Friday, Jan. 13 [avl.mx/c9m]. The draft vision document follows in the spring.

First, in my opinion, it is no longer necessary for the city land in front of City Hall and the courthouse — and especially not the Pack Square site where the Vance Monument stood — to be named after George Pack any longer. The name I would like to see the people of Asheville and Buncombe consider is Unity Future Park and Unity Future Square. I think a clock tower can go where the Vance Monument is … and the obelisk court challenge needs to conclude as a result of whatever this visioning process leads to.

I came up with the name Unity Future a year ago. Since then, I learned Greenville, S.C., developed its Unity Park and opened it last year [avl.mx/cas]. It’s a big deal for Greenville. The background in the Greenville case is relevant, and the answer to the question of “Why use the word unity?” is apparent. It’s important to go over how the term unity was introduced with the original Vance Monument dedication and then at the rededication just in 2015.

I don’t really care if someone comes up with a better name than Unity Future. Some may insist on honoring a public figure versus using a concept like “unity plus future.” I think renaming this “public commons” area is important at the cognitive level as to what Asheville and Buncombe are to be about for the rest of the 21st century. Then, ideally at least, the more tangible transformations many are seeking — versus “just more visioning” — may fall in place more readily.

“The Vance Monument had no Confederacy symbols, and the demolition was a pointless waste of taxpayer funds.” That’s a paraphrase synthesizing several local comments on the obelisk demolition and related legal case. There are many things I am not in unison about, and yet I am totally on board with defying such ethics as what that darned obelisk was really about.

Finally, it is deserved to add that, for me, Unity Future is not just the name of a park and a possible clock tower.

I have more details. This is just a quick letter to the editor.

Also, I personally invite CWDs (Citizens with Disabilities) of all ages to also participate in this and other strategy work … and not just as to the continued meager Americans with Disabilities Act assurances from the city of Asheville, as exampled in the Pack Square Plaza Visioning project here: “ADA access needs for the raised lawn on the northeast end of the square.”

That’s not exactly an equity-based outreach headline directed to the many CWDs residing in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Happy New Year!

— Grant Millin

Editor’s note: Millin notes that he’s a strategy innovator and longtime Asheville resident.


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17 thoughts on “Letter: Think about unity and future in Pack Square redesign

    • gapple

      why we need a clock tower? everyone has a phone or device that tells time. Heck, most cannot read an analog watch today.

    • Grant Millin

      Share something that makes Asheville great… maybe for the first time… Anonymous Entity.

      American Liberal Democracy is worth saving. But I actually suggest doing a deep dive on the name change versus everyone just doing as I say.

      Not a real critique. Just more base ad hominem attacks

    • Shultz!

      “I heard them talk about unity, well that only works when the beers are free” – The Toasters

    • C

      “Unity” ?

      There are some who are now as threatened into silence as those who claimed that infamous position before.

      Leaving the area as it is would be a more honest testimony of our social disconnect, but that probably won’t happen. We have to play King on the Mountain. Who will be next, a few years from now?

      “What we have heah – is a failyah – to communicate.”

      But y’all will go ahead anyway, shiny tin crowns and all.

  1. indy499

    LOL. Literally the dumbest name for any place, product, process or service I’ve ever heard.

    • Grant Millin

      Share something that makes Asheville great… maybe for the first time… Anonymous Entity. Also, thinking about our public commons in a unidimensional business construct is exceedingly shallow.

      Not a real critique. Just more base ad hominem attacks.

      • Shultz!

        Methinks ‘ad hominem’ doesn’t mean what you think it means. They were crudely trolling your idea, not you. Funny enough, calling out someone’s use of a pseudonym is a better example of an ‘ad hominem’ attack than the original post from indy499, which was more just being a meano.

  2. Shultz!

    I think you inadvertently came up with a better name in your letter when you said ‘public commons’ – ‘Asheville Commons’ for Pack Square Park sounds perfect. Unsure about the monument spot – a clock seems a bit stodgy for Asheville. Maybe build something Stonehenge-y and aligned to the sun/stars…or maybe embed a big medicine wheel type thing on the pavement. We can call it ‘The Nexus’ or the ‘The Time Machine’ or similar.

  3. jERRY hINZ

    1) Make the park as open as possible for Multiple Use – changing uses all the time
    2) Do not add any plaques- any statues- anything to make up for Vance– as in the opposite views- Leave it open
    3) Continue with artists putting up temporary displays of their work- as you have been allowing- even promoting–lately
    4) Have sightlines from Biltmore- all the way to the Pavilion– being “open” encourages entrance to the park
    5) Continue permitted activities- festivals- pop up tents with goods being sold- food trucks– etc.
    6) Coninue- even add- bands playing. Bands are rarely “noise” and you can permit the extra dBA – we don’t mind
    7) Enforce the noise ordinance (revise it please) to be A)Noise is that which disturbs- B)noise can be duration- C) noise can be dBA — butNOISE— is not exclusively dBA (loudness only ) as it is defined today.

  4. gapple

    Maybe some puritan stocks for punishing graffiti artists, looters, pick pockets, etc.

    • Gordon 1820

      Best idea ever. Stocks. And we can all go over and throw rotten tomatoes at them. It will save putting them in jail and going through the arduous justice system. Just spend a couple of hours in the stocks listening to the people they have offended. Wel done!

  5. Miles

    Asheville doesn’t need a memorial or monument for anything or anyone. People don’t come here to view a monument, but come here for the mountains, hiking, rafting, and beer.

    What should be placed where the Vance monument one stood. How about a nice tree, a species that is native to the area. Benefits, it will provide shade, produce oxygen, and be completely nonpolitical, offending no one, maybe.

  6. Phillip Williams

    Why do you want to change the name of Pack Square at all? George Pack gave the property to the city, along with many other gifts. He was neither a slave owner, a Confederate, nor a Jim Crow politician – in fact, he actually did help to make Asheville great. Change for the sake of change alone is silly.

    If you are intent on leaving some kind of leadership legacy, why don’t you get to work knitting a big afghan coverlet and they can hang it in the Pack Memorial Library in your honor.

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