River Walk Update

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Posted by Elaine on August 29, 2000 at 19:59:40:

Had a phone conversation awhile ago with Woody Keen from 'Friends of the Falls' regarding last night's meeting. Some very interesting signs are in the wind. The following is an update sent out via e-mail today. As you can see, Mr. Anthony's proposal is not at all acceptable to those seeking to gain public access.

As so many of you have expressed hope that any future gatherings would include a visit to the River Walk, now's your chance to help make that wish a possibility. The next IMPORTANT date is September 9, so please send e-mails & make phone calls, if possible. Be heard now - before it's too late!

Also, we will have some info faxed tomorrow regarding a FOF concert to be held this weekend in Asheville. We'll post that for any who might wish to attend.

At the August 28 Transylvania County Commissioners meeting, developer Jim Anthony announced his proposal to allow limited public access to the three waterfalls on his property, and to put certain other acreage into a conservation easement. The proposal includes:
- Place 678 acres into a conservation easement
- Place 238 acres, including land near waterfalls into some 3rd party trust, which would be governed by representatives of his company, state and county government, and community colleges.
- Provide a specific trail from the DuPont State Forest to an observation platform at each waterfall for the general public to view from 9am to 5pm each day.
- He also promised that 80% of the forested tract would remain undeveloped, though he mentioned no details about how this would be defined or enforced.
Although the last-minute addition to the County Commission agenda was apparently intended to be a one-sided property rights rally, Friends of the Falls supporters got wind of the rally only hours before, and showed up in nearly equal numbers. Both sides were allowed equal comments during the public comment period. Friends of the Falls leaders criticized commissioners for jumping to support Anthony's position when few of the details were available, and explained why total acquisition of the property is still in the State's best long term interest.

Let Them Use Observation Decks
Perhaps the weakest part of Anthony's proposal is his insistence that the general public be limited to one simple access trail and observation deck for each waterfall. We don't believe that this is what Governor Hunt has in mind when he demanded full public access. Anthony continues to insist on a two-tier system where his clients have more priviledges around the falls than the public, and these viewing corrals (fenced in?) will certainly provide the division he is looking for. As far as we can tell, the public will have no freedom of movement across any part of this property, including the 238 acres proposed for ownership by the third party trust. Certainly there is nothing in this proposal that addresses the dead end trails or the interests of hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, fishermen, or hunters.

Ask the Governor for Full State Ownership
Friends of the Falls continues to ask the Governor to prevent this gated community inside the State Forest by sticking to his commitment: full public ownership of the 2200 acres. Even if you have contacted State leaders previously, we need everyone to tell the Governor that Observation Decks inside a gated community are not what we have been fighting for.

How to contact State leaders

Hendersonville Times News coverage

Asheville Citizens-Times coverage

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