The Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhood has been a recognized conduit for neighborhood concerns and representation since the 1920s; we were listed on the National Registry of Historic Districts and formalized as a neighborhood association in the 1970s. We are honored by this history, and our residents benefit by the cohesion and encouragement of an active neighborhood.
It is out of concern over Sen. Tom Apodaca’s recent proposal for Asheville City Council districting that we write. As the board of the Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhood Association, we seek cohesion and connected neighbors.
The proposed districting plan, and proposed map, unfortunately bisects our neighborhood in several places. The proposed plan bifurcates our neighborhood along the half-mile stretch of Charlotte Street contained in our neighborhood districting plan. The connected boulevard of Edwin Street and Kimberly Avenue are also separated under the proposed plan. This is all the same neighborhood, and proposals that add elements of division and separation should be avoided.
Of equal concern, the proposed legislation alters neighborhoods with like interests and/or concerns who work collaboratively on common issues, creating competition for limited city services and resources. Further, city residents now have direct access to all members of City Council, but the proposed plan may encourage Council members to focus on specific district interests rather than on what’s best for the greater community.
The Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhood Association asks that deference toward established neighborhoods, especially those with boundaries set by the city of Asheville, be given consistent representation. While we acknowledge the goal to promote more representation in other areas of Asheville, seemingly arbitrary map designs that bisect and pose harm to our neighborhood’s cohesion that is not desired or needed.
Therefore, the board of the Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhood Association asks for reconsideration of the senator’s proposal, especially as it relates to the mapping of potential Asheville City Council districts within local neighborhoods and the potential unintended consequences and harm an impact like this creates.
— Alan Escovitz, President
and members of the Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhood Association Board
Editor’s note: Sen. Tom Apodaca filed State Bill 897 to establish district elections in the city of Asheville on June 22, the day after Escovitz’s letter was received by Xpress. Contacted by phone, Escovitz said his association’s objections to the districting plan remain unchanged in light of the bill’s filing.