Letters to the editor

Start small, but learn the gift of giving

What happens when a city is displaced?

They show up on your doorstep.

On a Sunday morning in Montford, a young man knocked on my door, avoiding direct eye contact and asking, “You know, I don’t really do this, but I, well, it being Sunday and all, and … uh … I don’t usually do this, but maybe, tonight, could I, I mean, could I sleep on your couch?”

It is generally not a comfortable feeling to allow a stranger into your home in this age of terror alerts and the — disgraceful? justified? — fear of the “other.” Should you put your family at risk to harbor the homeless?

There is no general answer to this question; it must be made on an individual basis. Whether or not to accept someone into your home is not an easy decision, but there are things that will make this decision easier — the same things that will make you a better decision-maker.

First, get comfortable giving. Start small. In our competitive society, giving is often discouraged. If we aren’t comfortable giving an hour here or a few dollars there, how can we be comfortable giving the gift of shelter?

Second, get comfortable talking to strangers. This is only accomplished through practice. Also, understand that the vast majority of those displaced from New Orleans and now wandering about the nation are also not comfortable asking strangers for help — they just have no choice.

Third, we must be comfortable with ourselves. After a self-imposed homelessness, I found that as I became more in touch with myself, it became decidedly easier to feel comfortable with people, and to know when to distance myself from people.

An easy way to become comfortable with yourself is to give, and giving connects us to each other. America’s competitive, free-market, democratic and technologically advanced society has provided the vast majority of Americans with affluence. This affluence provides us with the time, power and capability to Give.

You can look to any major religion, or you can try it yourself for proof, but the simple fact of the matter is that the world is in desperate need of Giving. If you want to make the world better, start with an unexpected Gift — and don’t forget that giving makes you smile, too.

For an easy start, please turn to the “Lend A Hand” section of the Mountain Xpress.

— Cory Finneron

Park that deck somewhere else

As a resident of Battery Park Apartments in downtown Asheville, I am writing to oppose the planned parking deck around two sides of our building.

The construction alone would create more than a year of choking dust, loud noise and obnoxious fumes. All of this would certainly create an unhealthy and disastrous atmosphere for all who live here.

I would thank City Council for reconsidering these plans and looking for a more realistic and nonintrusive locale.

— Lucretia Buehler

Honor the beauties of Battery Park

One of my many reasons for opposing a parking deck at Battery Park is that the St. Lawrence Basilica and Battery Park Apartments would be almost lost to public view.

Why not build a park opposite these magnificent historical buildings, with trees surrounding them? This, I think, would be beautiful and would draw more tourists and vacationers to our area. After all, most people come here for the weather and beauty of our state. More and more of our green space is being taken up by new buildings and smog, and this is neither healthy nor beautiful!

Please, folks, cast your vote against this parking deck and opt for a better location. There are plenty of other sites that would be more acceptable for everyone.

— Shelby Jean Burris

Sport driving is the real danger on “The Dragon”

I respectfully disagree with those attempting to have U.S. 129 closed to commercial traffic from Tapoco, N.C., to Calderwood Lake, Tenn.

The Federal Highway Administration does not currently designate U.S. 129 for use as a commercial highway for certain vehicles. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 regulates the size and weight of vehicles on federal highways, and restrictions are already in place which limit the size of trucks that can use the highway to 60 feet in overall length, 102 inches in overall width, and 80,000 lbs. gross weight.

Over the years there have been many, many loads of heavy equipment, including lumber and logs, transported safely across U.S. 129 into Tennessee, largely by Graham County truck drivers — me included. Other than minor fender benders, I am unaware of any serious injuries or deaths caused by trucks, because these truck drivers had respect for the road and respect for others, as exemplified by cautious, common-sense driving.

It’s only in recent years that we’ve been overwhelmed with motorcycles (racing bikes in particular) and small sports cars on U.S. 129, turning the highway into a racetrack. These outlaws have absolutely no regard for their own personal safety, let alone the safety of others traveling this roadway! If they would obey all the traffic laws, they wouldn’t have to fear becoming a hood ornament on the front end of a commercial vehicle.

Recently, a private vehicle was struck head-on by one of the motorcyclists driving without due caution for the safety of others using the road. If such incidents continue to occur because of recreational sport driving on “The Dragon,” will private passenger vehicles eventually also be banned? Will this highway, built and maintained by tax dollars, become just a means for a select few pleasure-seeking individuals to have fun while on vacation?

The current restrictions on U.S. 129 are sufficient until this road can be reconstructed, which should be the overall goal of lawmakers on both sides of the state line. Until then, all current size and weight limitations should be strictly enforced. But to close the road completely to commercial vehicles would place an even greater economic burden on the good, decent, hard working people of WNC. Blount County, Tenn., and Graham County, N.C., should be looking for ways to contribute to and share in each other’s economic futures, instead hindering any chances for industrial and economic growth.

I realize that tourists contribute a great deal to our economy; however, I think it is ill advised to put all our eggs into one basket. Like most communities in this America, we depend on a certain percentage of industrial-based jobs. Jobs that are not seasonal. Jobs that endure through the hard winter months. Jobs that feed families.

So instead of stopping commercial traffic on U.S. 129, Graham County officials should be asking state and federal legislators to see that funding gets allocated through the budget process to reconstruct this stretch of mountainous roadway.

— Steven B. Odom

This city needs some housekeeping

I am a 68-year-old female. I am a resident of Vanderbilt Apartments. I was born and raised in Asheville.

I love this town. I am so upset and disappointed in the way that City Council is ruining Asheville. They are in the Council to see how much money they can waste. They are not concerned about any residents that live in Asheville. They are catering to the tourist. But trust me, there are not as many tourists as there used to be, thanks to Leni Sitnick, [who] destroyed Asheville.

If I was a tourist and planning to move, and I came to downtown Asheville and saw all of the gays, hippies and funny-dressed people, street (homeless) people and big dogs — and a dirty, smelly person comes up to me and says give me change and a cigarette — I would get in my car to go to another town.

My suggestion to the Council is to clean up Asheville. Fix the streets and sidewalks so no one will get killed.

— Edna R. Metcalf

Ready for Asheville Underground?

There is much written and said about the development of downtown Asheville, i.e. parking, Civic Center, etc.

If I may throw this in: Though I do not want to make Asheville another Atlanta, have you ever heard of Atlanta Underground? In my opinion, it would worth your while to find out about it and then look at Lexington Avenue.

As I see it, Asheville Underground could put a level between Broadway and Haywood Street, and everything between could be developed into Asheville Underground. On the level above Asheville Underground could be almost anything from an extended Civic Center, much parking and development.

This could be a very nice place to bring to downtown Asheville, with possibly unlimited potential.

— Brett Reid

Brownie points by association

In the “Follow the leader?” article [Xpress, Sept. 28], mayoral candidate Joe Dunn is quoted as saying “Brownie Newman and myself stepped out on the limb to try to come up with a settlement” [on the Water Agreement].

Among any other points Joe Dunn was trying to make, was he also trying to associate himself with Brownie Newman, at least in the eyes of the readers of the Mountain Xpress?

I would personally associate Brownie Newman’s non-special-interest and broad community values more with someone like mayoral candidate Terry Bellamy, and Council candidates like Holly Jones, Robin Cape, Chris Pelly and several others.

When it is time for the next city elections in 2007, will Joe Dunn still talk about stepping out on the limb with Brownie Newman? I expect it will be a very cold day with snow blizzards, in a place out of this world, before that happens!

— James Sheeler
West Asheville

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