Xpress readers engaged with a wide range of local issues in 2023 — from concerns about downtown Asheville to infrastructure priorities, a possible single-use plastic bag ban, education issues and more.
“Before we rush headlong into anything we may have to tear down again in a few years, shouldn’t we at least give creative minds a chance to come up with some fresh concepts?”
“Imagine there’s a small town called Bondageville, named after its distinguished founder, Samuel Ashe Bondage.”
“Couldn’t the dimensions of the old obelisk yield a new and beguiling one, perhaps composed of a transparent composite material?
“The obelisk wasn’t the problem. Vance was the problem.”
“My hope is that the people who lived in Asheville in the ’60s and ’70s (Black) will actually see or benefit somehow from funds awarded to the reparation cause.”
“I believe that a simple, tasteful plaque acknowledging our city’s (and country’s) complicated past would have done wonders to heal wounds and begin to explain what ‘diversity’ truly means.”
“White supremacy wasn’t merely a footnote to Vance’s public career, after all, and he would have been the first to tell you so.”
“Instead, perhaps Asheville and Buncombe County should follow the British model of ‘retaining and explaining’ controversial monuments and statuary.”
“The name I would like to see the people of Asheville and Buncombe consider is Unity Future Park and Unity Future Square. I think a clock tower can go where the Vance Monument is.”
Reparations, the Vance Monument and the future of Pack Square Plaza are on the minds of local historians, as 2022 comes to a close.
“I point my speaker toward what used to be the Vance Monument. I find that I have to turn up the volume a bit just so that I can hear the music with which I’m playing. I may be violating a noise ordinance, and if anyone asked me to turn it down, I would do so.”
“Take, for instance, objections recently raised in the Mountain Xpress to increased housing density, open-space reduction and infill construction.”
“Notwithstanding the pontifications of the City Council and their attorney, the Vance Monument was a gift to the people of Asheville, largely paid for by Vance’s friend George Willis Pack, on property donated by Pack on the condition that it be retained forever.”
“Put the historic monument back up and remove the Vance name and then install the names of people who made Asheville what it was.”
“I think the monument should celebrate protest.”
“The final piece in the ‘anywhere USA aesthetic’ has concluded with the dismantling of a time capsule dressed in ancient Egyptian fashion at Pack Square, done with such haste it’s partial and in legal limbo.”
While some historians were already telling fuller stories before the monument’s removal, others have been inspired by its absence.
“We the people need to be informed, but it is hard when they are having meetings by Zoom all the time.”
Xpress readers offered up a raft of thought-provoking letters to the editor, commentaries and comments about local affairs in 2021.
“I live in Asheville, and I’m wondering why people care more about the homeless than the police who are deciding to quit because of the people in charge not backing them up, and [people] running around shooting up places?”