Letters to the editor

Pardon this mess?

This is a project being built by Neighborhood Housing Services. The construction debris has been piled up, as shown here in [this photo], from October 1998 until today (May 25).

This project, on Westover Avenue in the Montford Hills community, is a hazard for young children and an eyesore to the people in the neighborhood. What kind of service is this, eh?

— Dana Irwin

[Kerry Forrest, construction supervisor with Neighborhood Housing Services, replies:

“Neighborhood Housing Services of Asheville was formed in 1989. At that time, Montford was experiencing the effects of urban decline. Since our inception, NHS has disbursed $800,000 for 35 loans to homeowners who were unable to secure bank loans for substantial repairs; assisted 75 home-buyers with down-payment funds; provided 15 grants for emergency repairs; purchased/rehabbed/resold 14 abandoned houses; and constructed 10 new homes for low-income families.

“Regarding the Westover community, in 1997 NHS collaborated with the Montford Hills Neighborhood Association to purchase 30 lots along Westover Drive. Several of the lots were combined to create larger plots, and a portion of the property has been conveyed as a dedicated green space for the community. Two homes have already been completed and are now occupied by first-time home-buyers. Two homes are under construction.

“There have been some delays on two of our projects, but we’re working to get them finished. The home at 92 Westover should be completed by the end of June. The home at 195 Westover is currently awaiting dry wall, and, yes, there really is a shortage! I would ask the neighbors of NHS to be patient as we work with our builder to bring these projects to completion.”

Down with yuppies, up with parks

In response to Daniel M. Breen’s letter [May 26], I would like to say I agree with some of his sentiments regarding this town’s (or at least certain people in this town) bowing down to the whims of the elite and wealthy tourists [who are] brought here by the hip and trendy, if not sickeningly materialistic, downtown scene.

I believe we should hike up the hotel tax and the like, to pay for improvements to this town. Put the burden on those who use this as their playground (and earn two or three times as much as [the] average) … or on the tacky shopping centers (whose shops only pay minimum wage).

I recently visited a friend in Missoula, Mont., and noticed that surrounding the town were beautiful, undeveloped mountains, very nearby (odd, because Missoula is as big, if not bigger than Asheville, and growing). My friend responded that the town (I’m not sure if by bond referendum or how) had purchased the land, so that it would stay undeveloped. Herds of elk, as well as other wildlife, need that land as their habitat, and the citizens get to use it for hiking and outdoor recreation. Those people seem to love their mountains, and we should all love these old mountains here a little more.

Mr. Breen, I am not a yuppie, and I don’t make a lot of money — but I do own a home here and must pay property taxes, so on one hand, I see your point. Maybe the specifics of this bond referendum weren’t a great idea, but I do want to see Asheville and Buncombe County protect open spaces, animal habitats, water and air quality, etc., and I would be willing to pay more taxes if I knew it would go to do just that.

— Suzanne Cukla

Teen criminals must face the consequences

As I watch the news, sitting in my living room, I hear a cry of outrage coming from the media and our elected officials in Washington, D.C. There was a shooting at a school in Colorado, and there was one in Georgia. Our national government is passing legislation for more gun control. Our government wants to put the responsibility for the actions of these teenagers upon the parents, [and have them] charged as criminals.

Our teenagers have become out of control, and the media is blaming the Internet, Hollywood and the National Rifle Association. I hear a cry for more restrictions — tougher gun-control laws, ban[ning] access to Internet sites, produc[ing] less violent movies in Hollywood.

Blaming the parents, the Internet, the NRA, the gun or Hollywood is ridiculous. Our nation has become a nation of laws, not a nation of people. Let’s put the responsibility where it belongs: at the teenagers’ feet, not the parents. As parents, we have so many governmental agencies regulating our actions with rules, laws and the threat of judicial punishment. We cannot discipline our children … if they do wrong.

But instead, our government and its agencies have told them they can do anything they want, and nothing will happen to them. Our children are not responsible; our government says that we, as parents, are.

I say the government that we have created, with all of its laws and regulating agencies, has created this problem — and punishing the parents is not the answer.

I say again: Let our teenagers suffer the consequences and be responsible for their own actions. If they do an adult crime, [let them] do adult time! Enforce the laws that are on the books now. Don’t restrict the actions of an honest man or woman any more than they have already been. These children want to be and act like adults, subject to the same laws and responsibilities that I have to live by. Then subject them to the same consequences, if laws are broken.

— Melvin Joines

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