Group calls for boycott of Grove Park
By Charlie Thomas
Asheville, North Carolina, Dec. 16 (AGR)
On Saturday, People Advocating REAL Conservancy (PARC) called for a
boycott of the Grove Park Inn. They are calling on the public to stay
out of the Inns spa and restaurants, and to not reserve rooms
for out-of-town visitors or book special events there.
Grove Park Inn proposes to erect a ten story building on a public park
downtown, between the County Building and the Biltmore Building. They
would pay $650,000 for the land, and build a $25 million high rise with
44 luxury condominiums that start at $700,000. The ground floor would
be commercial space; the building would have underground parking.
Their proposed site is across from the Cottonwood Cafe, and encompasses
the grassy area and trees where the green clock is located, part of
College Street, and the trees and land where the Energy Sculpture now
Julie Brandt, speaking for PARC, said that when her group started a
few months ago, almost no one knew that the land was being sold. We
took to the streets with a petition, asking City Council to hold a referendum
on the proposed plan. Most people were outraged to hear about the plan,
and the few who had heard about it thought that it was already a done
She said the group quickly got signatures of over 1500 registered voters.
What did the Mayor and City Council say to those 1500 citizens
who loudly opposed this sale? Nothing. They had nothing to say to us.
The law does not require Council to hold a referendum, regardless of
how many citizens object, so PARC started publishing newspaper ads signed
by citizens opposed to this building. Brandt says they have twice run
full page ads full of names, and that neither the Council nor the Grove
Park Inn seems interested.
Brandt continued, Last week, we asked PARC supporters to write
the Grove and Sammons (owner of GPI), urging them to find another spot
downtown to build. Over 125 people did that.
Yesterday, we met with Craig Madison and Jay Winer of the GPI
to see if they would withdraw. Mr. Madison stated that his decision
is strictly a financial one. He is waiting on a final report on the
feasibility of the project, and if the numbers add up, they will build.
He plans to announce his decision by Dec. 31.
Brandt then addressed the Grove Park Inn directly, asking, What
will it take for you to listen to us?
She continued, If the Grove Park Inn ignores the wishes of the
citizens of Asheville, why should we patronize them? Why should we eat
at their restaurants? Why should we go to their spa? Why should we make
reservations there for our out of town guests?
We should NOT.
We are asking everyone to oppose the sale of our parkland by boycotting
the Grove Park Inn, and to phone and write to let them know why you
are taking your money elsewhere.
City Council votes next spring on selling the land if the Inn does not
withdraw. Joe Dunn and Carl Mumpower, City Council members who favor
the sale, claim the new high rise will increase both the tax base and
the downtown green space.
PARC members reply that the Grove Park Inn should build on a vacant
lot or unused building like everyone else does, thus providing the same
tax base without appropriating a public park and destroying needed green
space and mature trees.
The second argument is basically a lie, said PARC supporter
Jennifer Kontz. To figure that the building would increase green
space, the people who favor it add in the project in City/County Plaza
which will eliminate the access roads and parking spaces, and will increase
green space. But thats a separate project, and its going
ahead anyway. So, as common sense would indicate, the building will
indeed decrease green space.
PARC supporter Laura Thomas adds, We need to let to the Grove
Park Inn know that our parkland is NOT for sale. We think these trees
look just fine here, and that another building to crowd this area is
not appropriate. We think that the opinions of the people who live here,
who use the park, and who enjoy the view here, are important. If the
Grove wants to build downtown, there are plenty of sites available.
Brandt says that PARC is looking for allies: We invite other groups
who oppose this project to make it publicly known and to join the boycott.
And if you want to know more about this issue, please visit our
website, at http://www.ashevilleparc.org/, she said.
Teacher fired for making anti-war comments
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Dec. 11-- Elizabeth
Ito, an English teacher who lost her position at Forsyth Technical Community
College in Winston-Salem, NC after making anti-war remarks in class
last March, will present her case to the Forsyth Tech board of trustees
on December 18. That meeting follows an October hearing of the Forsyth
Tech personnel committee during which the college refused to reinstate
Ito even after it withdrew its allegations that she was incompetent
This is not an isolated employee matter, said Anita Earls,
Director of Advocacy, Center for Civil Rights, University of North Carolina
School of Law. Forsyth Techs indefensible and unconstitutional
treatment of Elizabeth Ito demonstrates that the repressive spirit of
the PATRIOT Act has a very wide reach.
One of Forsyth Techs chief remaining charges against Ito is that
she had difficulty in accepting the view of [her] supervisors
that class time should be devoted to matters germane to the curriculum
of the class.
Ironically, when President George W. Bush visited Forsyth Tech on Nov.
7 during a fundraising trip to Winston-Salem, classes were cancelled
for the entire day on one of the colleges two campuses. Students
were not invited to hear the president speak.
On Friday, Mar. 28, 2003 Ito, held a ten-minute class discussion about
the Iraq war, during which she expressed her opposition to the US policy.
After two students complained, Susie Keener, Chair of the Department
of Humanities/Communication, told Ito that she should not have shared
her personal opinions with the students, who might have felt uncomfortable
disagreeing with her. Nothing could underscore more dramatically
the way varying political views are handled at Forsyth Tech, said
Ito. I spent ten minutes of class time criticizing U.S. policies
in Iraq and I lost my job. The architect of U.S. policies in Iraq comes
to Winston-Salem and students are done out of a full day of class time.
The argument that politics had nothing to do with my dismissal is simply
At FTCC, prior to criticizing the war in her class, Itos performance
evaluations were satisfactory to excellent.
One month after the incident, she received an overwhelmingly negative