Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Seems Resonable to me...

from our friend Gordon over at ScrewHoo...

Group Calls For Investigation of Parkside Deal and
Reacquisition of Public Land

Though widely acknowledged to have been a mistake, the
sale of public park land to a private developer has
neither been investigated nor has the County
government corrected its error through reacquisition
of the land in question. The process that allowed
this failure of government to take place must be
publicly examined and corrected to ensure the people
of Asheville and Buncombe County can have full faith
and confidence in their elected government.

George W. Pack gave Pack Square to County residents in
1900 "provided that the County will dedicate to the
Public forever, to be used for the purpose of a public
square, park or place". While Stewart Coleman's Black
Dog Realty fights the Pack family in the courts,
ordinary citizens are left wondering how their
government could have allowed the sale to happen.

Asheville Buncombe Policy Institute, in the spirit of
open government and honoring the legacy of George W.
Pack, put forth the "Public Forever" resolution on May
12, 2008 asking that County Commissioners shoulder the
responsibility of (1) determining the cause and remedy
for the failures that led to the sale; and (2)
reacquiring the park land in order to return it to the

The private developers continue to move ahead with
their project, slated to come before City Council in
June, 2008, despite being rejected by the Asheville
Planning and Zoning Board and being opposed by the
Pack Square Conservancy, the ostensible stewards of
the park.

That which George W. Pack insisted remain "Public
forever" is in danger of being forever lost. Our
County government has a moral and ethical obligation
to its citizens to investigate and rectify this

Through a full accounting of the error(s) and through
rectifying the errant transaction, our County's
government will demonstrate its openness, commitment
to quality, and willingness to say that "public
forever" means public forever.

# # #

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to
schedule an interview with Gordon Smith of A/B Pi,
please contact him at 828/279-2551 or email Gordon at

"Public Forever" Resolution. Submitted by the
Asheville/Buncombe Policy Institute to the Buncombe
County Board of Commissioners on May 12, 2008:

WHEREAS the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on
January 7, 1901 recorded in the minutes an offer from
George Pack, which was accepted by the Commissioners,
"I offer to give to the County to be used for a site
for a Coach House and County offices, the land on
College Street in Asheville, which I purchased of Col.
A.J. Davidson, provided that the County will dedicate
to the Public forever, to be used for the purpose of a
public square, park or place".

WHEREAS Buncombe County acknowledged that parcel
9649.19-50-0341 (otherwise known as park land in front
of City Hall) fell within the Pack Square boundaries
in an August 14, 2001 agreement between the City of
Asheville, County of Buncombe, and the Pack Square

WHEREAS it has been publicly acknowledged that the
County sold Parcel 9649.19-50-0341, which was included
in the August 14, 2001 agreement that Buncombe County
signed with Pack Square Conservancy, is public

WHEREAS this sale was advertised for only one day in a
small, classified advertisement;

WHEREAS that sale was inserted into a consent agenda
moments before voting on it without any public notice
and summarily passed;

WHEREAS the sale of such land requires a public
process, requests for qualifications, etc.;

WHEREAS Builder Stewart Coleman began research to
acquire this parcel before it was for sale;

WHEREAS Builder Stewart Coleman held private meetings
with former City Planning Director about acquiring the
park land for a year before doing so;

WHEREAS these discussions, per Mr. Coleman, involved
swapping City-owned land for Parcel 9649.19-50-0341;

WHEREAS the parcel was sold for $278,000 below the
value later assigned to it by the County;

WHEREAS Wanda Greene's signature is on the August 14,
2001 agreement with Pack Square Conservancy, promising
that parcel to them for the park, but she then
advocated for the sale of the parkland when Stewart
Coleman approached the County about buying the old

WHEREAS Commissioners Peterson and Stanley have stated
that the deal might have been a mistake;

WHEREAS Commissioner Gantt has stated, "We screwed up"
and "Everybody failed." in regard to the sale of the

WHEREAS the Register of Deeds office possesses an
aerial photo with a map overlay that clearly shows the
proposed sale's property line extending well into the

WHEREAS, according to Commissioners, no one in County
staff alerted the Commissioners to the fact that the
land is in Pack Square;

WHEREAS this would have required failures at every
level of County staff;

WHEREAS public trust and public confidence are central
to our democracy;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the parcel be reacquired
and returned to its intended purpose as stated in the
Pack Square Agreement signed by parties representing
the City of Asheville, the County of Buncombe, and
Pack Conservancy on August 14, 2001.

Commissioners or an independent organization will
initiate, complete, and make public an investigation
into the causes of the various failures that allowed
this sale of public park to a private developer to
take place and that this investigation will be
completed by August 15, 2008.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

good entry about this issue. stuff like this is what makes me worry for the future of asheville!