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LETTERS / The Current Proposed Building Site for Valle Crucis School Needs to be Reexamined

Dear Editor,

I am writing in protest of the proposed new school construction site in Valle Crucis, NC on the Hodges Farm property on Broadstone Road.

My parents moved to Valle Crucis in 1984 and purchased a dilapidated homestead that they then restored to historic and architectural preservation guidelines and opened the Mast Farm Inn in 1985.  Serving hundreds of dining and lodging guests each year, the Mast Farm Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, became known as a place of refuge and nostalgia for a simpler time, when food prepared was grown in the garden and air conditioning was a cool breeze through an open window.

Guests visited Valle Crucis, the first rural Historic District designated in North Carolina, because of it’s legendary, peaceful charm, the legendary and endearing Mast General Store, the Valle Crucis Conference Center, the winding Watauga River, vast meadows and mountain vistas.

The new proposed school site, is at the entrance to the Valle Crucis Historic District, is adjacent on two sides to the Mast Farm Inn property, the Watauga River and numerous residential properties built and restored to historic district or preservation specifications. It is located in a FEMA designated flood plain similar to the current location of the school. Many decisions regarding the new site have been made behind closed doors without due diligence to environmental impact studies, North Carolina Board of Education building recommendations, accurate and fair real estate appraisals or historic district codes.

On October 1 at 6:00pm at the Methodist Church in Valle Crucis, the Valle Crucis Historic District Commission will meet to discuss the changing of commission guidelines, unprecedented by any other construction. The meeting is open to the public.

As an educator and a parent, I understand the desire to have a new school with an educational environment appropriate for students to learn and grow and enjoy.  The current proposed building site needs to be reexamined and other properties explored before negatively impacting the Historic District of Valle Crucis.

Sally Pressly Ballmer

Mason City, Iowa
Part-time resident and property owner, Valle Crucis, NC