The City of Asheville is examining new possibilities to increase consumer recycling and affect waste reduction within the city, and is drawing on community members in four Asheville neighborhoods for assistance.
As part of the “HowLowCanAvlGo” campaign, the city, in conjunction with Curbside Management, is conducting a waste reduction pilot program in neighborhoods on the north, south, east and west sides of Asheville. Residents in those neighborhoods will receive new blue 95-gallon carts to use for recycling all goods currently handled by Curbside management.
“Everything they normally put in their bins, they now will put in this cart,” says City of Asheville Solid Waste Manager Wendy Simmons. “And they don’t have to sort it.”
The pilot program is a next step in determining the best way to encourage and incentivize recycling and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. The carts will make it even easier to recycle while providing residents with more available volume for recyclable goods. Click here to see the materials currently recycled in the City of Asheville.
The barrels are being distributed to 770 residences in Norwood Park, Burton Street, Parkway Forest and Park Avenue/The Views neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, explains Simmons, were chosen in order to create as diverse a sample group as possible that is representative of the city at large.
The pilot program will last three months, during which time, the City of Asheville and Curbside Management will weigh how much recycling and trash is generated and compare that number to weights collected prior to the distribution of the carts. Curbside Management will also collect data on sorting and handling the recycling to determine the feasibility of expanding the program city-wide.
“It gives us an opportunity to review challenges we might have, such as topography and accessibility,” says Public Works Director Cathy Ball. “And to figure out how to address those challenges.”
The pilot program, says Simmons, is truly a community effort that draws on the organization and participation already present in the selected neighborhoods. Getting the word out about the program to everyone in a community is a challenging prospect, but already several neighborhood association members have stepped forward to help distribute information and get their neighbors on board.
“That’s actually one of the most exciting parts of this for me,” Simmons says. “Block leaders stepped up and said they will deliver our brochures and surveys. It’s great to get that buy in at that level.”
Parkway Forest Neighborhood Association President Barbara Buchanan says that news of the pilot program in her neighborhood resulted in the largest turnout of any association meeting. Parkway Forest uses block leaders to distribute newsletters by hand, and they were able to use the same technique getting information out about the recycling effort.
“We’re very pleased the city picked Parkway Forest for the program,” Buchanan says. “We pretty well covered the whole neighborhood.”
The surveys, provided to everyone participating in the program and made available online, will give additional useful data, as will follow up meetings with associations.
”We’re trying to provide all the means we can for people to get feedback to us,” says Ball. “We really can’t do it without their participation.”
The Waste Reduction Pilot Program is being coordinated across multiple City of Asheville divisions, including Sanitation, the Office of Sustainability and Community Relations. Click here for more information on the pilot program and the City of Asheville’s recycling initiative.
Racing veterans, fans, and representatives from the City of Asheville and Buncombe County convened at Carrier Park on Amboy Road September 23 for the unveiling of a monument commemorating the former Asheville Motor Speedway.
The site was home to the popular speedway from the early 1960′s until the track closed in the late 1990′s. It is now home to Carrier Park, one of the City of Asheville’s most popular recreation facilities.
“This was championship stuff, with the big guys. And it all happened here,” says Asheville City Council member and former race car driver Jan Davis, who spearheaded the effort to place a memorial at the park telling the story of its speedway days. The memorial was funded primarily by private donations and coordinated by a steering committee, but shared the support of Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners. The City of Asheville provided in-kind support by assisting with design elements and siting at Carrier Park.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by hundreds of race fans and supporters as well as elected officials from Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Commissioners. Race car drivers who were part of the Asheville Motor Speedway legacy were on hand to sign autographs and tell their stories as well. Live music was provided by Whitewater Bluegrass.
The memorial documents 50 years of racing tradition in Buncombe County, telling the story of one of NASCARS’s legendary tracks through pictures and narrative drawn from the drivers and fans themselves. “The local people, they really made it happen,” Davis says. The race community in Buncombe County and especially in West Asheville, provided the drivers, mechanics and fans that supported the speedway.
“That was the important part,” Davis says. “To tell the story. A lot of work went into the authenticity and making sure we were telling the right stories.”
Located right in front of the track that is now used by bicyclists, the memorial gives visitors to the park a taste of racing history. Today, Carrier Park, with its multiple recreation option, is used by thousands of people each year.
“This will appeal to those who were here and those who are just walking through the park with their kids and don’t know about its past,” Davis says. “Because it is interactive in how it tells the story.”
See more photos below. Additional photos courtesy of Brian Sarzynski.
On Thursday Sep. 24 and Friday Sept. 25, Asheville was host to a gathering of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition. Mayors from North Carolina’s 26 largest cities, including Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, gathered to discuss important issues common to their municipalities and build an advocacy agenda to present to the North Carolina General Assembly.
The N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition is part of the N.C. League of Municipalities, and works as a group to address state and national policies that affect local governments. This year’s adopted agenda focuses on the fate of municipal revenues in a statewide shortfall, the North Carolina justice system, the growing biotechnology industry, transportation and statewide broadband availability.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy joins other North Carolina Mayors at a Friday press conference.
Special guest speakers during the event lent their expertise in statewide issues that paralleled the group’s agenda, including Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, N.C. State Treasurer Janet Cowell and N.C. DOT Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon.
Click here for a press release from the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition about the event.
Mayor Bellamy said the event provided a good platform with which to bring representation from all over North Carolina to Asheville.
“The last couple of days was an opportunity for mayors from across the state to come together to create a unified agenda to put forward to our state legislators,” Bellamy said. “Also, it was very important for them to be in Asheville, to welcome them to this part of the state.” Bellamy said. “It was an opportunity for the City of Asheville to be part of a larger collaboration.”
More photos below.
Lt. Governor Walter Dalton speaks to the coalition at dinner Thursday.
Durham Mayor and coalition chair Bill Bell (center) during a reception at the Grand Bohemian Hotel.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy greets other North Carolina Mayors at dinner on Thursday.
N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell speaks during a luncheon at the Grand Bohemian Hotel
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy speaks to the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition during dinner at Fiore's Restaurant on Thursday evening.
Students from the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy volunteered their time and energy at the Eliada Corn Maze on Saturday, September 18, taking tickets for the popular maze, providing information to guests, cleaning up and helping out with the Kid’s Hay Maze and the Cow Train Ride. The event provided the youth with an opportunity to give back to the community, an important element of the CAYLA program. The annual corn maze raises funds for Eliada Homes, which provides services and therapeutic programs for area children.
Volunteering plays a critical part in the CAYLA program, says Erika Germer, Educational Programs Coordinator. “One of CAYLA’s aims is to teach its students about civic responsibility through community projects,” Germer says. “Since June, the students have completed 12 activities with an array of local organizations and agencies.”
This summer, the group held a day-long Olympics for children enrolled with the Vance Summer Camp, prepared two dinners at the ABCCM Women’s Shelter, assembled 1,200 snack packs at MANNA Foodbank, helped with a fundraiser for ChainFree Asheville, and tended the community garden at the Emma Family Resource Center.
“Many of the projects are planned and led by the students themselves, thereby allowing them to practice their leadership skills,” Germer says.
Since its inception three years ago, CAYLA students and alumni have accumulated more than 1,350 volunteer hours.
The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy program, envisioned in 2007 by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and City Council, places students in meaningful summer internships with City departments and partnering organizations throughout Asheville, Germer says. The program also empowers its students to get involved with their community, and supports them through guidance and scholarships in their quest for a college education.
“CAYLA is no doubt one of the finest programs any school has to offer,” says Asheville High junior Kasia Maatafale. “This is because it not only gives us paying jobs, but CAYLA helps us discover more about ourselves. We are taken out of our comfort zones, and given an opportunity to learn more about our community, and the world around us.”
Click here to learn more about the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy.
A quarterly newsletter published by geographic informations systems (GIS) industry leaders Esri spotlights the City of Asheville’s mapAsheville system, and especially the “Priority Places” economic development feature.
The newsletter “Government Matters: GIS for State and Local Government,” leads its Summer edition with the article “GIS Fosters Economic Development in Asheville.” Click here to read a PDF of that publication.
MapAsheville was developed in 2006 as a tool to use GIS and web-based searchable maps to provide useful information to the public. By following the link www.ashevillenc.gov/mapasheville, anyone can access data like development activity, steep slope information and fire district boundaries.
The “Priority Places” economic development feature allows potential business startups to search for sites in Asheville that meet criteria that benefit their economic goals. Users can see features like economic incentive zoning, proximity to public transit, riverfront potential and the site’s location in relation to business and population centers.
Other features of mapAsheville include Crime Mapper, which displays crime related information and statistics and Development Mapper, which shows the status of large-scale development projects.
In July, the City of Asheville’s Information Technology Department unveiled a new mapAsheville application that allows users to see which entities or agencies own and are responsible for maintenance of specific roads within Asheville city limits.
Collaboration with Buncombe County has enhanced mapAsheville with regional steep slope data and crime information from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department.
The mapAsheville program won the 2009 G. Herbert Stout Award for Visionary use of GIS by Local Government. The “Priority Places” feature won the 2008 new Media Award from the International Economic Development Council. And the “Development Mapper” feature won the 2007 Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award for Innovations in Planning Services, Education, and Public Involvement.
Fire stations in East and West Asheville will soon get their hot water from newly installed solar panels, announced the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability. On September 16, technicians from Asheville-based Sundance Power Systems installed two collector panels atop Asheville Fire and Rescue’s Station 8 on Tunnel Road. Similar panels were set to be installed in the next few days at Station 6 on Haywood Road.
“This is a first for the city,” said Linda Fowler, Project Manager for the Office of Sustainability. “This fits right in with Asheville’s goals for reductions in energy use.”
Because firefighters occupy fire stations full-time, and use hot water at a level comparable to or even above residential levels, outfitting the fire stations was a good fit for reducing power costs in the city organization as a whole. Each station houses six to seven firefighters.
“For the firefighters, this is basically a house, so it made a lot of sense in getting the biggest payback fastest,” Fowler said. “It’s going to make a big difference in their electric bills.”
That means not only a reduction in energy use, but also a reduction in the Asheville Fire Department’s operating budget. The systems utilize flat solar collector panels to absorb solar energy and use it to heat water for domestic uses like showers, laundry and kitchen use. Though operating on solar technology, the stations’ hot water heaters will still be able access backup power in case of long periods of low sunlight.
Funding for the $21,000 contract comes from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, which seeks to stimulate jobs and business as well as encourage industry in new, green technology. The contract was awarded to Sundance Power Systems after an open request for bids.
“We are tied by law to that process, and accepting the lowest responsible bid,” Fowler said. “But it is always nice to have somebody local.”
In a separate project, the Tunnel Road station will also be receiving energy efficient weatherization by Asheville-based Home Energy Partners, including window replacement, weather stripping and insulation, which will further reduce energy use.
The fire station solar upgrades correspond to strategic goals established by Asheville City Council that call for Asheville to be green, sustainable and fiscally responsible. Council also passed resolutions in 2007 calling for the city to reduce its carbon footprint at an annual rate of 2 percent, and achieving an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
This video gives an update on the City of Asheville’s efforts to address the city’s strategic priorities. Each year, Asheville City Council determines what the city’s strategic goals will be. For 2009/2010, Council determined those priorities to be:
• Fiscally responsible
Click the link below to see how the City of Asheville is pursuing those strategic goals.
On Saturday, September 11, members of the Asheville Fire Department and their families gathered at the Grove Park Inn to participate in a ceremony commemorating firefighters who served and died in the 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City. The ceremony was presided over by Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette, who said the events of September 11 hit the firefighting community especially hard.
“Nine years ago, hundreds of firefighters rushed into those towers,” Burnette said. “Their one purpose was to save lives. 343 of them did not come home. It was a huge blow to the American fire service.”
The ceremony was marked by a moment of silence, a presentation of the colors, a commemorative video and a performance by the Asheville Fire Department’s Pipe and Drum corps. The Asheville Fire Department holds the memorial ceremony each year, and also uses the event to note accomplishments of the department and its personnel over the past year.
“This is a somber day,” Burnette said. “But it is also a day of celebration of our firefighters and our accomplishments.”
Firefighters who were promoted in the past year were recognized in pinning ceremonies, and the department’s new hires were formally welcomed into the ranks. Additionally, the department gives out special ribbons to firefighters whose actions resulting in saving a life over the past year. “We have much to celebrate this year,” Burnette said, adding that a new station and a larger force means a quicker response in emergencies.
The Asheville Fire Department hired 13 new firefighters in the past year, and opened a new station in Haw Creek in July, 2009. The department was also re-accredited by the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
“There are a lot of of people whose lives have been saved through the efforts of these firefighters,” Burnette said. “They have made an enormous difference.”
The Homeless Initiative of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County holds meetings throughout the year to coordinate efforts among area service providers and bring them together with people who may be experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. But the year’s biggest event is Project Connect, a comprehensive conference of providers and those seeking various forms of assistance. The event, held this year on Friday, September 10 at First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville, was made even larger by being planned alongside the nearby VA Medical Center’s Stand Down event.
“There was a great turnout. There were more people than we expected,” said Homeless Initiative Coordinator Amy Sawyer. “It really reinforces that the need is great.”
The Homeless Initiative, endorsed in 2005 by Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners, seeks to provide a holistic approach to remedying homelessness through a public-private collaboration of multiple service providers. The community-wide initiative is a forum that provides an opportunity for individual groups and stakeholders to share and compare information, find and fill gaps in service, and improve their levels of cooperation in confronting the common goal of preventing chronic homelessness.
The coordination of efforts also allows for more accurate data and a more detailed representation of the scope and needs of people experiencing homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County. That information means available resources can be more effectively used and provides an insight into what needs still must be met.
Though an emphasis is placed on the “housing first” model, services like health care and career assistance among other needs are brought into play, and that strategy was reflected at Project Connect, in which dozens of providers, stakeholders and nonprofits participated.
Getting everyone into one location opened up the opportunity for people experiencing homelessness to find the services they are looking for. Volunteers sat with attendees, conducting interviews to find out what their specific needs were, from financial counseling and health screening to haircuts, veterinary care for pets and voter registration.
The VA Stand Down, held at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, provided similar opportunities, but focused on the needs specific to veterans.
“There are things that are so basic, but maybe you didn’t realize how hard things would be if you didn’t have them,” Sawyer said.
A key component to the Project Connect event is also examining what services are available and what gaps still exist, and how to maximize the efforts of those in the community who are participating in addressing the issue of homelessness.
“This event is kind of like a catalyst,” Sawyer notes. “It creates conversations between providers, businesses, faith groups and others to find and identify and fill service gaps. It helps create or strengthen pathways to preventing homelessness.”
Sawyer stresses that this kind of effort could not be undertaken without immense support from the community and that, at its heart, a concept like Project Connect is a community event.
“Eventually, we would like to see the community carry the momentum of Project Connect,” Sawyer says. “Anyone can do this. It’s really a stone soup approach: We all have a little to give, and when we put it all together, we have a lot.”
Click here to read more about the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative.