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February 03, 2009

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Jim

Thank you for posting this item on your blog.

Here in Asheville, NC, there is a plan to expand an interstate which is not congested and destroy 19 houses in a predominately black neighborhood. In December, many of us watched in amazement as the county commissioners moved to recommend approving this plan on a meeting the afternoon of December 23, 2008 (as Jon Stewart would say, you can't make this stuff up:
http://www.mountainx.com/news/2008/buncombe_commissioners_cancel_tuesday_meeting_on_i_26 ).

When they DID hold the hearing on Jan. 6th, about 140 people showed up to recommend an alternative that would not raze the homes. We knew that two commissioners were in favor (they had voted, essentially in secret, two years previous to sell part of the town square in front of the city hall to a private developer, at reduced price, so that a 10 story luxury condo could be built), two were opposed, and swing vote was up in the air.

We listened closely to hear what the swing vote would say. "I've talked to people outside the Chamber of Commerce," he explained, looking out over the sea of faces, almost unanimous in their opposition to the plan, "and nobody I've spoke to is for the alternative [which would not raze the houses]", and then voted for the highway expansion alternative which would raze the houses.

At that point, the majority of the folks in the audience walked out (many, including myself, had voted for the swing vote, thinking him fair and open-minded).

Since then, many people have brought this topic up in conversation, and a Facebook page called "Save Burton Street" has gained almost 450 members in less than a month. A forum is in the works for later this month, I've heard.

Those interested can read more at
http://www.mountainx.com/news/2009/an_i_26_primer
http://www.mountainx.com/news/2009/buncombe_commissioners_make_their_pick_for_i_26_connector_route
http://www.mountainx.com/news/2008/chamber_backed_i_26_plan_would_demolish_burton_st_homes

I hope this post hasn't been too long. We do need green infrastructure spending, but we don't need expensive, unnecessary highways that destroy neighborhoods.

Jim

Here are photos of Asheville's East End from 1970, and the story behind them:
http://www.buncombecounty.org/GOVERNING/DEPTS/Library/Gallery/andreaClark/default.htm

Sandy Maxey

There is a painful irony to see these photographs, and to recognize that some of our leaders are perpetuating the same dynamic decades later. Here is a link to an editorial written by one of the residents of Burton St- the neighborhood that (once again) may see demolished homes:
http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2007/lets_find_a_way_to_make_it_right/

Infuriating to have the Chamber voting the way they are.

Jim- I had no idea you posted here!

Anon.

Would you share your syllabus or reading selections for the course? I'd very much like to read along.

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