Letters to the editor

A plant deserves to live

This is just to let the people who apparently do not know: A flower planter is for plants and flowers. It is not a seat, trash can, ladder, ashtray, beer coaster, nor a form of entertainment.

I would appreciate it if people would show more consideration and appreciation! I have spent over $100 replacing my flowers and flower planters in front of my store, just this summer alone.

The merchants on a lot of the downtown streets strive to better our neighborhood by having flowers on the street. Please don’t destroy our efforts to welcome you to our neighborhood.

— Regina R. Trantham
Masterpiece Jewelers

North Buncombe Middle School fails

Whatever happened to schools and teachers who encourage rather than discourage students?

Someone needs to ask that question at the North Buncombe Middle School math department. Students who are very capable of doing Algebra I are being discouraged from taking the class. Because a few guys in Raleigh want to look good on paper by having an advanced eighth-grade Algebra I class with only 15 students who all get A’s, they have [excluded] a group of children who are capable of doing the work. Here you have some kids who want to learn and be challenged, but they are being told, “No, we can’t be guaranteed you’ll get an A in this class.”

So you need to go back to the slow-moving, boring math class and waste yet another year. Stay motivated, though?

The public schools are wondering why people would prefer to take their tax money and choose a school that fits their needs and encourages students to challenge themselves. If I could afford to send my kids to private school, believe me, I would.

Do we really need to give more of our tax dollars to a system that doesn’t even begin to work?

— a fed-up parent

Recycling doesn’t get much easier — so get with it!

My family and I moved to Asheville two-and-a-half years ago from Camano Island, Wash. On the island, we were only allowed one or two trash cans per week to be hauled away by the city, as compared to six here. We didn’t have curbside recycling, as you do here. Still, everyone, by and large, took it upon themselves to recycle and deliver their recyclables 10 miles away to the nearest recycling center, without complaint. For years now, it has been common practice there to reduce, re-use and recycle. I can’t remember ever seeing trash strewn about the streets, or a single tire or appliance lying in a ravine.

For those of you in this city who dump and litter (you know who you are), I’ve got news for you: Littering has been socially unacceptable since the late ’60s. Remember the TV slogan, “Every litter bit hurts”?

When we purchased our home in the summer of ’97, we had to haul about 100 pounds of junk out of our house to the local transfer station, and it only cost $1.50! A lot of junk was even hauled away from our curbside at no extra cost. We sure didn’t have that luxury on Camano Island! The city of Asheville’s Division of Sanitation and fine organizations like Quality Forward couldn’t possibly make it any easier for residents and businesses to keep this city clean.

Quite frankly, I am tired of cleaning up the littered streets in my neighborhood, so my children don’t have to play in a garbage dump.

So, next time you’re getting ready to empty your ashtray in the Ingle’s parking lot, or dump a mattress in a ravine, remember: We may not see you, but we will notice the ugly mark you leave around this city. And scattered among the trash and debris, we will see a part of your legacy, which is marked by a lack of integrity and civic pride. We will be ashamed of you. Think about it before you litter and dump next time — and perhaps, if you stop, you will start to feel better about yourself.

— Jackie Romanos

RiverLink quibbles while the speedway dies

When it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck — then it must be a duck!

The president of the misguided RiverLink, in a recent letter to the editor, went to great efforts to point out that the organization that killed the Asheville Motor Speedway is not federally funded (but is nonprofit), as I erroneously reported in an article in your publication [Commentary, “Requiem for Asheville speedway,” Aug. 25]. So what’s the big deal?

RiverLink’s executive director, Karen Cragnolin, applied for a federal grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to purchase the land, although private donors came to her aid. Would that have not been federal money?

Everybody knows that nonprofits are set up to receive both federal and private contributions. So who really cares whether RiverLink gets its money directly or indirectly from the federal government? It gets help from folks looking for tax breaks — not because they love the French Broad — but because they are looking for ways to avoid paying taxes.

The handling of the sale of the Asheville Motor Speedway was so badly botched by Madam Cragnolin that its image and effectiveness have been permanently damaged.

Miss Cragnolin should be fired or asked to resign. She has single-handedly done so much irreparable harm that it will limit the organization’s credibility, and undoubtedly hurt her efforts to raise additional funds.

Last week, I drove by one of RiverLink’s existing greenways on Amboy Road around 6 p.m. There were two trucks, two people and one dog using this lovely expanse. Will that be what we see when a popular sports arena serving 4,000 weekly is turned into another park for a handful of people and a haven for druggies and drug dealers?

Also, I thought that the deed restrictions said no markers for AMS, when actually it said no historical designations be made of the property. Which is more damaging of the two?

I advise the RiverLink people to get out of the business of saving a river that no one really wants. Get a worthwhile cause, like preventing homelessness or hunger.

— Richard Waters

Editor’s note: Regarding historic designations of the speedway property, paragraph 5 of the January 1999 agreement between the city and RiverLink states: “The City of Asheville agrees that it shall not under any circumstances seek historic designation for the speedway property that would require that the asphalt track speedway and other structures and facilities be preserved as a historic structure or landmark, in whole or in part, or any designation that would in any way interfere with the development of the speedway property consistent with the master planning for the use of the speedway property. This provision does not in any way attempt to prohibit recognition of the historic significance of the Asheville Motor Speedway by monument, plaque or other appropriate marker, and is not intended in any way as being disrespectful of the history of the Asheville Motor Speedway, the drivers and racing teams or the racing fans. Nor is this provision intended to prohibit the City from using the race track or its facilities in a manner consistent with the deed restrictions and with the plan for the property. This provision is only included to prohibit any attempt by the City or others to designate the race track, stands and other facilities as historic structures such that they could not be removed, dismantled or modified as necessary for the City to accomplish the goal of developing the property as the John P. Gregg Memorial Greenway for use as a greenway and park for recreational uses by all the citizens of Asheville and visitors to Asheville.”

On art and commerce in Asheville

Hello! I just wanted to make some observations:

1) I, for one, do not find the Pack Place sign ugly or objectionable in any way. In fact, since the gaudy thing has been there, I’ve actually been informed about the fine displays of art the Asheville Art Museum has to offer. Were it not for those flashy lights, I would never have known about the de Kooning and Pollock displays. Sometimes, it takes this kind of controversy to enlighten us all about what kind of fine art we have here! Besides, a brief study of Asheville’s architectural history will reveal that many of our downtown buildings were sources of controversy when first built.

2) It does appear that there is a lack of “brain jobs” here, but as a native, I have noticed that the most successful people here got successful by offering their talents and skills in a way that enriches Asheville, and so they have been supported and [have] done well in business. Perhaps those with extensive skills can find a way to offer them to individuals in need of those skills, and if no business will hire the highly skilled, there is always the option of starting one’s own business. Once again, that is how some of our successful people got that way! The monetary value others may put on a person’s skills will never match the value that person puts on his own skills when he thinks highly enough of them to see them as valuable. So I say, think of yourself as valuable and others will, too. Keep the faith, skilled Ashevilleans!

— Jon Seven

Men, mowers and asphalt

I read Peter Loewer’s commentary [“Men, mowers and chain saws,” Sept. 15], and I enjoyed it tremendously. I have never been able to figure out just what exactly is wrong with having trees in the parking lots, and it has been a great mystery to me how the decisions came about to create a vast sea of asphalt [in front of] every major mall or Wal-Mart. I always thought that the parking lots were designed this way to greatly increase the amount of heatstrokes and burns resulting from touching the cars parked there — which, of course, would result in the increase of business for the Wal-Mart pharmacies.

Have you ever noticed how men dress for yard work? Like the knights of the Dark Ages, they don their armor of work jeans, (specially kept dirty for that purpose), work boots and a rough shirt (preferably paint-stained). It is a sacred ritual that we, the lowly females, long ago gave up trying to understand. Perhaps it comes from the Paul Bunyan spirit, which seems to possess all American males age 13 and higher when confronted with an overgrown yard.

I have a neighbor who weed-eats his yard every day. This is not an exaggeration: He does it every day. The grass on his property is an eighth-of-an-inch tall, and brown hillside is showing through.

Once, I had to trim the hedge — which I let grow out until it was nearly 12 feet high, quite monstrous on my part — and I began my work wondering if this neighbor, who had already mowed his yard that day, would come out and inspect the fruits of my labors. He lasted about five minutes. The sound of my trimmer was too much for him to bear, and so he took out his weed-eater and began laboriously trimming the nonexistent weeds. I am horrified to imagine what happened to the few trees that must have been on his property at some point.

In conclusion, allow me to reiterate: I really enjoyed your commentary. Sadly, I don’t think anyone will try to put trees in the parking lots, for too many young, restless souls would cruise around them in trucks and throw beer bottles at the trunks, for lack of a better weapon against this blasphemy marring the pristine sea of asphalt.

— Ilona Gordon

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