Story on Pack Square Park left too many stones unturned

I am not slow to criticize the Pack Square Conservancy when I think they deserve it. However, I believe that Michael Muller's article on the cost overruns and delays of Pack Square Park ["Debacle or Sparkle," Aug. 24 Xpress] unfairly leaves out a crucial question. What impact did the two attempts to privatize portions of the Park have on these overruns/delays?

In 2003, when the park project should have been a rallying center for the whole community, the Grove Park Inn (with the help of the city), attempted to take over the entire middle section of the park. The Conservancy-hired designers had to try to incorporate this massive private development into a successful public space. The staff of the Conservancy had to go out and try to sell this unpopular concept to the public and to possible donors. When the GPI pulled out due to the enormous public backlash, the Conservancy had to re-design that section of the park.

How can we calculate what that turbulent year or two cost the Conservancy in lost time and lost donations? Four years later, replay all of that with the Parkside debacle, this time thanks to the County selling a portion of park land out from under them to Stewart Coleman.

Like I said, I and others have been critical of the Conservancy when they deserve it. But I have to ask why these controversies, and the huge effect they had on the development of the park, were left out of this article.

— Barry Summers
Asheville

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