Friday, August 8, 2008

STOP PARKSIDE!

Left: Anti-Parkside signatures were collected at Bele Chere, last month in Asheville, NC.

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The people of Asheville, North Carolina, continue to battle the Parkside Condo Development, as I stated in my Bele Chere post. A day ago, protesters connected with the Mountain Voices Alliance received a notice from developer Stewart Coleman, that the blockaded Magnolia tree was coming DOWN within 35 days.

Meanwhile, the development continues to divide the community in Asheville.


Left: The entrance to Malaprops.

Emoke B’Racz, the owner of one of my favorite bookstores in the world (and the first place I go when I get to Asheville), Malaprops, tells Mountain Xpress she is worried her business may not survive the development:

“What I hear from our customers is that they love downtown Asheville because it’s different—because it doesn’t have high-rises, because it has small businesses you don’t see anywhere else in the country,” she says. “We’ve worked hard for 27 years to make [downtown] viable for the emerging artists, writers, musicians, galleries and bookstores. Why we think we’ll make Asheville better by having a Tiffany’s store is beyond me. If the small businesses can’t afford to stay downtown, we’re changing what this town is—and it’s not going to be attractive to tourists. Period.”

B’Racz doesn’t know whether Malaprop’s would still be in business by the time the Haywood Park construction finished. “I hope we could handle it, but I’m not 100 percent sure, in all honesty, that we would survive,” she notes. “Speaking from my experience of the six months we had construction on Haywood for the water pipes, that was a really hard time. This development is two years, and how much do you want to bet it’s going to take longer. No small business has the funds to stay open for three years without sales coming in—and why would [customers] come down here if there’s dust and explosions everywhere?”
And now, demonstrators against Parkside are preparing for the worst. Mountain Xpress reports:

Parkside protesters demand eminent domain, plan demonstration training

by Brian Postelle
Mountain Xpress, August 7, 2008
Responding to a letter from Parkside developer Stewart Coleman, protesters beneath the magnolia tree adjacent to City/County Plaza are planning “direct action” workshops and demanding that either the city of Asheville or Buncombe County declare eminent domain to return the property to public hands

“There is nothing left but eminent domain,” said Elaine Lite, one of several who spoke before a crowd of about 50 people at a noon press conference held at the site.

The conference was called in response to a letter delivered Tuesday to protester and Coven Oldenwilde high priest Steve Rasmussen in which Coleman spelled out his intention to cut down the tree “sometime after 35 days from today’s date.”

The magnolia and the Hayes and Hopson building stand on property sold by Buncombe County to Coleman in 2006. Over the past few months, Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners have each repeatedly appealed to each other to correct the situation. Meanwhile, it appears that Coleman is ready to move forward with his condominium project, saying in his letter that he is applying for a demolition permit to tear down the Hayes and Hopson building.

Rasmussen’s wife, the coven’s high priestess Dixie Deerman, is one of several protesters who has been camping beneath the tree for the past month. Reading from a prepared statement, she said that “we reject Stewart Coleman’s ultimatum and vow to peacefully prevent the destruction of Pack Square’s beloved magnolia tree and the historic Hayes and Hopson Building.”

As part of that protest, the activists announced a “Direct Action Workshop” on Sunday, Aug. 16, to train potential demonstrators, and will conduct nightly “Tree Watch Orientation” sessions.

The spokespersons were vague on actions planned for future protests.

“Coleman’s not revealing all of his strategies, so the less we say about that, the better,” Deerman said.

Tree Watch Orientations will take place at 7 p.m. nightly. The time for the direct-action workshop on Aug. 16 has not yet been announced.
Click here to view a video clip from the rally.

STOP PARKSIDE!!!

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Listening to: Grateful Dead - Jack-A-Roe
via FoxyTunes

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