Fell Down and Got Back Up


{cross posted from the Save Burton St. Facebook Group}

Dewayne Barton and Joe Minicozzi spoke at the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods meeting on February 9. I was typing away and captured this rough transcription of what I heard. Note the event date at the end:

“Dewayne Barton –

n43283128380_922In 2001 Burton St. neighborhood was full of crime, drugs, garbage in the streets – not the way it had been when he grew up there as a child. Started by picking up garbage. Saw the devastation of the drug trade. Drugs saturate communities and destroy them. I knew that when I returned to Burton St. community. Even the City was giving up on the neighborhood back then. Started community watch. City wanted to close down community center.

The people started organizing. We got some funding from the City, thanks to Mayor Bellamy. Started community gardens, trash pickup, community meetings, telling on our neighbors if it was their children selling the drugs. It changed. People really came together.

Burton St. is full of history. Agricultural fair started there. Burton St. had its own African American baseball team. Things started picking up, but I-26 was coming. We couldn’t deal with it right away because we were dealing with the Dope Boys. We started creating opportunity. We started an apprenticeship program.

To go through all that. To live in a crack infested neighborhood. To see guys run through your yard with guns. To work real hard to change it, then there’s something else you gotta deal with. Now we’re trying to deal with I-26.

The people in the community are still in recovery. They’re tired.  There are a lot of people coming from outside the neighborhood who want to help. It’s a new fight for me. It’s a different kind of fight.

This is a neighborhood, that if it can be saved, can be an Asheville highlight. An area that fell down and got back up.

Twenty-five homes in section B, 12 homes in section A + the church.

Joe Minicozzi – I suspect that DOT didn’t “mature the design” to protect those homes. Now DOT is trying to protect those houses because they see the issues. We hear they’re changing the Alternative 3 design, so it may impact only 8 houses. Next month we’re going to have a conversation session about the I-26 issue and the neighborhood.

March 9th at St. Paul Baptist Church. Walk through of neighborhood at 5:30, information session at 6:30.”

Categories : Action, I-26 Connector


  1. Gordon Smith says:

    From an AC-T article cross posted to the Facebook Group: “The Burton St. neighborhood is far from the first low income, primarily African-American neighborhood to be targeted for destruction.

    “Beginning this month, UNC Asheville and other organizations will present a series on how urban renewal programs from the 1970s and before affected Asheville.

    Here is a list of the programs:

    *Root Shock in Asheville: Urban Renewal Hits Home A Weekend of Event, Exhibits and Conversations*

    The “Twilight of a Neighborhood” project documenting the history of Asheville’s East End community, continues with a weekend of events in February.

    Friday, February 27 at 7:00 PM

    The Humanities Lecture Hall, UNC Asheville *Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove ROOT SHOCK 2009* Book sale/signing & Reception to follow

    Saturday, February 28 from 2-4:00 PM

    Holly Library, A-B Technical Community College

    *EXHIBIT: Twilight of a Neighborhood: Asheville’s East End, 1970 *Opening & Reception for Andrea Clark

    Saturday, February 28 at 7:00 PM

    Diana Wortham Theatre – Pack Place

    *Conversations with Community Elders/YMI Reception for Drs. Mindy T. & Robert E. Fullilove* Diana Wortham Theatre – Pack Place

    Sunday, Mar. 1 from 2:30-4:00 PM

    Ferguson Auditorium, A-B Technical College *PUBLIC FORUM: ROOT SHOCK Today & What We Can Do About It *Moderated discussion by a distinguished panel, including Dr. Mindy Fullilove

    Event sponsors: Buncombe County Public Libraries, UNC Asheville, The Center for Diversity Education, The Stephens-Lee Alumni Association, The YMI Cultural Center, The Urban News, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and the NC Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Arts.”

  2. Tom Buckner says:

    I told Jim Barton I knew of a perfect location to build the interchange, just 3.5 miles south by southeast of Burton Street. There’s thousands of acres of open land and only one rickety old homestead on the site.

  3. firelady says:

    DeWayne is to be lauded for his work and statements. This man is incredible- for his work with his community and Green Opportunities. The guy is amazing.

    Absolutely pathetic that we are still playing the Jane Jacobs vs Robert Moses dynamic when it comes to “urban renewal”. When will we learn?????