Communities Coming TogetherBy
I just got back from the I-26 Forum at St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Burton Street Community.Â What an amazing collection of people.Â I’m going to give you the thumbnail sketch here, but Mountain X and WLOS covered it as well.Â Those links will be in the comments as they arrive.
Miss Vivian led the walking tour.Â She had stories about every home and person on Fayetteville St., and we all got to see the families who would be displaced if the I-26 Connector cuts through this neighborhood, a neighborhood that fell down and got back up.Â About a hundred people from every walk of life took the tour.
At 6:30 the church pews filled, and Dewayne Barton introduced the program.Â Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Design Center ran through the facts and, once again, plainly demonstrated that Alternative 4B’s design is superior in every way.Â Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Alt. 4B uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, connects west Asheville to downtown, separates local traffic from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development corridor in downtown Asheville.
The questions from forum-goers fell generally into one of two categories:Â process or action.Â Minicozzi and (Person Who’s Name I Ought To Remember) from the Southern Poverty Law Center fielded the questions very well.Â Former Mayor Leni Sitnick spoke from the pews about the history of the project and about how to work to make change.Â Reverend Hardaway, an undeclared candidate for City Council, got his question about effective action answered.Â Another speaker announced a petition drive to have Buncombe County Commissioners vote again on the I-26 Connector.
Chairman David Gantt continued the Q&A session, urging attendees to focus on the Governor’s office and on whomever she appoints to the DOT Board. He was followed by Mayor Bellamy.Â I missed the last part because I was out front talking to folks.
What’s next?Â A multi-pronged strategy to influence the DOT.Â At a community level, we need to continue to shine a light on Burton St. Community and on Asheville’s intention to be an alternative transportation friendly city.Â At an petition level we can get our names on the lists to support 4B and to ask the County for a revote.Â At an organizational level, we can contact the Governor, DOT, and Alt. 3-friendly County Commissioners, and we can plan to attend this summer’s DOT public comment sessions en masse.Â At an individual level, we can tell our friends and families about what’s going on and what they can do.