Article courtesy of Jeanie Martin
On July 15th, 115 East Asheville residents attended a meeting at Groce Methodist Church to voice concerns over the conditions of the East Asheville Library and loss of the community center that has been leased out to L.E.A.F. The loss of the community center leaves East Asheville community associations with no free meeting space and impacts library programming. County Commissioners David Gantt and Brownie Newman attended the meeting as well as City Councilman Chris Pelly and Roderick Simmons of the Parks and Recreation Department. Haw Creek Community Association coordinated the meeting.
Gigi Frances, current Manager of the county library system provided the history of the East Branch and told the audience that the East branch has been on the County’s Capital Projects Plan since 2002 but has been delayed multiple times. The current plan calls for renovations to begin in fiscal year 2019 with probable completion in 2021.
Residents voiced their concerns over the loss of the community center and the conditions of the library, which is the fourth busiest library in the system. Jeanie Martin of the HCCA Board announced that there was a current petition drive asking the County and City to begin a new library in a timely manner with input from local residents and to address the lack of meeting space. Comments on the petitions included: the library is too small (2,700 sq. ft. as compared to 8,000 sq. ft. at the North Branch), lack of space for children’s programs, not enough computers, no indoor bathroom, lack of adequate parking, the library being rundown and outrage at loss of the community center. Most residents would like the facility to remain at the current site. David Gantt explained priorities for county spending and advised the community that fundraising for library furnishing/equipment would be a good idea.
A group of residents formed after the meeting to advocate for a new library/community center complex. The petition drive is proceeding and a children’s petition has been designed and is being circulated. A letter to the Editor has begun and an open community-visioning meeting is being planned for Oct. 28th. Everyone living in East Asheville is invited so stay tuned for details.
To sign the petition online, go to HCCA’s website https://hawcreeknc.wordpress.com and click on helpful links to scroll down to the petition. To become more involved contact Jeanie Martin at email@example.com.