We’re not over the hill yet

I appreciated the recent opinion piece on Richmond Hill Park [“An Exceptional Treasure: Richmond Hill Park Is No Place for an Armory,” June 20]. I share the concern of the writer—that the ecological, cultural and educational value of this exceptional property far outweighs the supposition that the plan for a National Guard armory development at Richmond Hill has reached the point of no return, and the issue therefore mustn’t be revisited.

The city has already sustained embarrassment, environmental cleanup costs and other financial burdens because of this project. Most residents and homeowners who live in the Richmond Hill neighborhood do not want to see this military storage facility built there. Neither do thousands of other Asheville citizens. And at the end of the day, it seems that half [the members] of the Asheville City Council do not think it’s a good idea, either.

Unfortunately, it seems that many city officials would be satisfied with seeing the environmental damage controls for this project fine-tuned, while pronouncing “OK, lesson learned,” and leaving it at that. To the contrary, I’m certain that there are reasonable channels yet to be fielded by city officials for creating the means for having the plan halted.

While there are contractual elements in the original equation that have yet to be fully understood—much less interpreted through the lens of the plan’s belatedly realized, negligent violations—this armory can, in fact, be constructed elsewhere under the same authority who in 2003 requested permission on very rickety, shortsighted terms to acquire the property and construct it at Richmond Hill.

Perhaps a key ingredient to this problem’s solution is an extra mile of innovative political will on the part of city leaders. I encourage those leaders to consider the inconvenience behind working more proactively for the real solution to this problem, instead of just reviewing and relaying the fine print of negligence that led to it in the first place.

— Bud Howell

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