For me, the biggest story of the last few months is the fact that the Chamber of Commerce voted to demolish [much] of the Burton Street neighborhood. Our City Council voted (one shy of being unanimous) for proposal 4b as the best I-26 connector project. As far as I know, the citizenry felt they had been heard and were represented by this vote.
The Chamber decided to supply the DOT with their own input (why?), which (after much research and thought?!) [indicated] that a plan that demolishes 60 homes instead of 25 (and the same ratio of businesses) and requires more right-of-way acquisition was better for the “general good of the community.” They voiced their support of proposal 3 to the DOT.
Please spend a little time reading the Mountain Xpress blogs [www.mountainx.com] and inform yourself on this situation. I could go on for a while, but really I just want you to learn about the details.
It seems that the Chamber subverted the will of our City Council (and thus, the will of our township) and colluded with a few commissioners ([think] Parkside) to undermine good, thoughtful work by the Asheville Design Center. The Chamber has created a situation whereby the county threatens to be at odds with the city during what could be Asheville’s biggest moment. If I knew why, I would tell you.
I can tell you this: The plan the Chamber supports is inferior (by ignoring community concerns and focusing on fiscal and time issues) and is designed by the state—not by people who love and live in this community. I think the Chamber owes everybody in Asheville a reason as to why they are unwilling to listen to the Asheville Design Center, or else they deserve no voice in the matter. I mean, they haven’t even let Joe [Minicozzi] do his presentation, and yet they make this huge decision. What the heck are these guys doing?
Big ups and many high fives to Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Design Center for being our constant guardian and taking the lead early on with this I-26 project. Information enlightens. A no-frills, low-budget hero. Thanks, Joe.
— Austin Hill