The nonprofit created to oversee the redevelopment of Asheville’s crown jewel of a downtown park is considering its options now that the park construction is complete. One of those options is dissolution.
Guy Clerici, chairman of the Pack Square Conservancy, said Tuesday that the board met on Monday to talk about finalizing deed work to hand Pack Square Park back to the city of Asheville. No decisions were made about the future of the conservancy, he said.
The Pack Square Park project is a public-private partnership created to remake the park in the heart of downtown Asheville. The conservancy was formed in 2000 and what followed was years of fundraising, concern about the pace of the work, as well as relief when the park was finally opened a couple of years ago.
Construction on the nearly $17 million park went on for five years. (A combination of taxpayer dollars and private donations funded the construciton.) Construction actually lasted a little longer – the conservancy just recently finished building a pavilion in the park.
If the conservancy dissolves, it would raise a few questions: what is the future of the popular Labor Day concert in the park? what about the $2 million the conservancy owes the city of Asheville? who will oversee park operations?
More to come.
Now the taxpayers of Asheville and Buncombe County will have to foot the bill for this project since the promised endowment is gone, spent on overruns. Free land, way over budget, poorly supervised, it needs an investigation before everyone involved leaves town for “greener pastures”. And the final phase was completed in an economic environment that should have produced more for a lot less. No wonder the Pack Place Conservancy board wants to dissolve and avoid any deep look into their process, funding and accountability. Where are and were our gutsy watchdogs on City Council? It seems painful that the PPC would squander the generous community donations for so little result. It could very well hurt any future ask for private/public civic projects.
Is the money for this and other projects going to come from the proposed “Business Improvement Districts” that will raise taxes on downtown businesses?
From a city concilman June 2010: “The Conservancy has raised lots of money, and there’s plenty of reason to expect they’ll raise the rest. Should they fail, then there are other options to pay off the park rather than bonds.”
Im curious as to what those other options are almost a year later…
I have heard that the proper type of power supply that is required to run concerts’ electrical needs was not put in place in the park. Jason, can you confirm this? And if so, why not? Wasn’t the park supposed to become the home of Downtown After 5 and other events?