Downtown restrooms? Hum. Just hum.

I recall that when I was an “are we there yet” youngster, sitting in the back seat of Mom’s 1957 Ford with my younger brother, and one or the other of us were suddenly in need of a “rest stop,” Mom would advise us, “Hum. Humming always helps.”

Whether that’s a physiological fact, or simply a great distraction, it worked.

So, Asheville, HUM!

Pack Square Conservancy has lately found one more reason to put off construction of restrooms in our new downtown park. Restrooms were, of course, the main thing missing from the park ten years ago when talk of remodeling first gained traction. The Conservancy took up the remodeling job and has blown it, over and over and over. This week we’ve been told that the restrooms we were absolutely promised, at last, this summer, won’t be constructed until sometime in 2012. And this despite the fact that the money is being provided by the Tourism Development Authority, the plans are finalized, and the site is ready to roll.

This latest news from the Conservancy has led me to recount their astonishing track record. Feel free to add your own memories.

• The new park was going to cost $8 million, with no tax dollars involved. The price has ballooned to $20 million, with $2 million each from City and County, and $6 million from the federal government. PLUS, the Conservancy managed to end up $1 million in hock to the City because of a complicated money shuffle.

• The new stage faces west, directly into the setting sun.
This despite advice from longtime performers from Shindig on the Green that the stage should face north, so summer evening performers aren’t blinded by glare.

• The new stage doesn’t have a roof, so a temporary tarp has to be strung up to protect equipment and performers if rain threatens. Hello? Anybody home?

• The new stage backs up to the emergency access road for City Hall and the County Courthouse, so it can’t be blocked by large trucks with band/stage equipment. This severely limits the kind of shows that can be staged at our grand new park.

• The revamped park has a smaller capacity for crowds. So we now have to stage our biggest community events elsewhere. Huh?

• The design of the park sharply reduced the area available for booths and other festival displays, so some users have simply abandoned the park for other locations. (The Greek Festival comes immediately to mind.)

We should never have turned over a project of this magnitude to a private entity. We must demand a full accounting of all money spent over the course of this ongoing debacle. The Tourism Development Authority should rescind its “restroom grant” from the Conservancy and hand the money to the City of Asheville which has a great track record of finishing projects on time and under budget. Enough is enough.


2 Responses

  1. To quote one of my favorite bands “Stop making sense!”

  2. The original restrooms are still underground north and south of Vance Monument. The north part was temporarily exposed, and photographed from BBT bldg. when Merril Lynch bldg was building its private parking lot [ illegally ] underneath the asphalt paved part of Pack Square Park just north of Vance Monument

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