I really miss reading Cecil Bothwell in the pages of the Mountain Xpress. Dismissing him from the paper was a real loss to our community. I hope the Mountain Xpress has enough sense to hang on to Jason Sandford, because he is doing excellent work.
I want to comment on the shape of downtown Asheville. First, the huge, shiny, silver statue in Pritchard Park looks really out of place in a tiny brick courtyard. This should be moved to a place that matches the size of the sculpture, and since it is a modernistic piece of art, [it] should be in a modernistic setting. Pritchard Park does not meet either of these standards.
But that pales in comparison to the horrific mess we now have in Pack Square and City/County Plaza. And it is not a new or temporary mess—this [area] has been torn up and rendered nearly unusable by the public for three years now! We have lost a beautiful fountain, lovely flowering trees with benches underneath, a sculpture of a girl at a fountain, and a nice stage area for local cultural events. In return, we got hideous ugliness [from] the Pack Square Conservancy. It is really a shame that the city officials and county officials ever talked to these people. Their ideas are destructive, and their ability to finish up a project seems to be nonexistent. And if they have the same artistic judgment as the people who put a huge, shiny, futuristic sculpture in a tiny brick courtyard, then I expect the final result for Pack Square and City/County Plaza to be a major eyesore.
This is totally inexcusable that this group was allowed to destroy two downtown parks and render them unusable for the public for over three years. And on top of all that, they are going to spend millions to “fix” it up again. I do not think that public money should be used for this at all, and I don’t think having business or private money [paying for] this work will lead to a result that is usable by the public. I think they should be ordered to return everything in City/County Plaza and Pack Square to exactly the way it was in late 2004, and they should do it at their own expense.