Home Locations Asheville Council grapples with culture and mud on slippery slopes

Council grapples with culture and mud on slippery slopes

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By Leslee Kulba –

Trouble, oh we got trouble,

Right here in Beer City!

Renee White, president of the East End Neighborhood Association had the floor at Tuesday’s Asheville City Council meeting. She wanted to be clear this time. The residents in her community did not want the BrewFest, as she called it, at Martin Luther King Park another year.

Last year, attendees had been loud. Language used on residents was belligerent and ugly. Partiers littered residential yards with broken glass and Styrofoam cups. Their parked cars obstructed traffic, and then, after presumably drinking, they drove away without having to pass through a sobriety checkpoint.

White said her neighborhood was family-oriented. So was the park. Playful children should not have to dodge drunk drivers. A couple men of the cloth were among the neighbors who showed up to support the presentation.

At a community meeting at the DPW building last year, White said she was certain she had the support of all seven members of council in, “giving BrewFest its walking papers.” Now, she sees BrewFest’s web site is selling tickets, listing MLK Park as the venue this year. White acknowledged what was done, was done, and said the neighborhood would tolerate one more year. But henceforth, she wanted something in writing from council, and Mayor Terry Bellamy was prepared to get four nods to direct staff to draft a resolution.

But first, Councilman Chris Pelly asked if Eddie Dewey, representing what is properly called the Brewgrass Festival, could present the other side of the coin. It appeared mediation had been taking place behind the scenes. Dewey said MLK Park had been home to the festival ten years since its inception in 1997. That said, the event organizers would like to keep the festival there one more year. After all another community, the brewing community, stood to gain a lot. Afterward, however, there should be no problem moving Brewgrass to McCormick Stadium.

But there was. Bellamy said moving the event one mile down the road wasn’t going to solve anything. She suggested Carrier Park as being away from residences, having abundant parking, and being more accessible. From there, council began discussing whether or not the resolution should wait until a site certain could be included. To say, “Not there, not where,” was construed as possibly giving the festival a death sentence.

City Attorney Martha McGlohon was called upon for input. She opened another can of worms pointing out that a resolution singling out Brewgrass could trigger equal protection and civil rights complaints that would come back to haunt the city in court. McGlohon asked council what it was they were trying to accomplish. They certainly didn’t want a larger, more bacchanalian festival there.

In the end, council directed staff to hash things out and offer an appropriate resolution at the next meeting. The mayor wished to be clear. She thought Brewgrass was an excellent event. It raised money for Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, and it was an economic driver, profitable for the local brewing community.

On the Literal Side –

Something has been running through the streets of Asheville besides beer. Street and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler reported the airport had received 41.67 inches of rain between January 1 and July 8. That’s 4.68 inches more than the city’s average rainfall for an entire year, and downtown has been hit harder than the airport. The record annual rainfall in the city, 64.91 inches, was set in 1973.

The first wave of problems hit when the city received over 5 inches of rainfall within about 24 hours from July 3 to July 4. Another walloping occurred between July 8 and July 13. Shuler showed multiple slides of the damage. They included a sea of mud on one yard, a sinkhole 10 feet deep, and multiple crumbled mountainside roadways that were missing major chunks.

Town Mountain and Beaverdam were hit the hardest. After viewing the slides, Mayor Terry Bellamy inquired about drainage problems. Lake Patton Avenue has been recurring for years unabated, but Shuler said the state was responsible for state roads. Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer asked what was being done about the landslide on Macon Avenue by the Longchamps, and Shuler explained the city could not intervene on private property unless the public was at risk.

Councilman Cecil Bothwell wished to thank city staff for clearing a tree in the rain, in the middle of the night, after it had fallen and blocked the road where he lives. Shuler said he had read the logs of after-hours respondents, and was impressed with the quality of people the city had in its employ.

Shuler said he had seen worse, but the damage is extensive. Staff had hoped the city would be declared an emergency area. Governor Pat McCrory visited Madison County to assess the damage, but no response has been received to date. Shuler said the city was in triage mode, and he appreciated people being patient.

The mayor asked that the city post on its website updates on the city’s priorities for fixing roads. She also asked that citizens notify the city of problems so they can start solving them, as opposed to letting those responsible for helping find out about things as they are accused of negligence on TV. Shuler’s office number is 828-259-5852.

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