I am writing to express my strong support for Asheville Vice Mayor Marc Hunt in his bid for re-election to Asheville City Council this fall. The decision about the future of the city-owned property near … the Basilica of St. Lawrence is an example of an issue where Marc has led with constructive and pragmatic solutions. Marc’s stance —supported by five of the other six current Council members — is that the property should be the location of both an attractive building that would add vibrancy to downtown plus an open and inviting public plaza.
The suggestion by some in the community that the only appropriate use of the city property is to set the entire parcel aside as green space is oversimplified and, due to the financial realities, makes it more likely to remain a vacant surface lot that detracts from our vibrant downtown instead of adding an inviting mix of new public and commercial space.
With the redevelopment in recent years of Pritchard Park and Pack Square Park, downtown boasts several restored green spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy. Big spending for another full-scale park on the Haywood Street site would drain the city budget far more than the balanced use of the site favored by Marc and the majority of Council and would mean less money available for other priorities, such as sidewalks, greenways and non-downtown neighborhood improvements.
I have been a resident of Asheville for over 16 years and have worked as executive director of a regional land conservancy, protecting Western North Carolina’s parks and natural places. I got to know Marc as the senior program officer at the Open Space Institute, where he brought creativity, financial savvy and strategic vision to land and water conservation. Marc brings those same skills and a win-win approach to Asheville’s city government.
— Kieran Roe