Filed under: City Council

City Council and WNC Delegates talk legislative priorities

Members of Asheville City Council and members of the Western North Carolina delegation met Monday December 1 to have breakfast and discuss Council’s legislative agenda for the 2014 long session. Council will approve this year’s legislative agenda at its Dec. 9 formal session.

Photo from left to right: Senator Terry Van Duyn, Council Member Gwen Wisler, Representative-elect Brian Turner, Mayor Esther Manheimer, Representative-elect John Ager, Council Member Cecil Bothwell, Vice Mayor Marc Hunt, Council Member Chris Pelly, Representative Chuck McGrady, Council Member Gordon Smith.

Leave a Comment December 2, 2014

City of Asheville employees recognized for outstanding performance

From building code inspection to walkability. From to the RADTIP to emergency response, City of Asheville employees were recognized for excellence in service at Asheville City Council’s January 14 meeting.

City Manger Gary Jackson did the honors, thanking those who have exemplified professionalism, innovation and public service. But he began by highlighting two events that took place in January and required emergency response by several City of Asheville departments.

The first was the nearly 24-hour standoff on Max Street from Jan. 2-Jan 3 in which Asheville Police officers, assisted by the Buncombe County Sheriff’s office and the Henderson County Sherriff’s Office, resolved the situation peacefully and without injury to officers, the suspect or the public.

“The professionalism and ability displayed by these officers and our police department is commendable, and the community is safer because of their presence,” Jackson said.

Next, Jackson highlighted the Jan. 10 gas main explosion on Sand Hill Road in which the Asheville Fire Department responded to provide mutual assistance and the Asheville Police Department called in resources. After the fire was extinguished, the city’s Public Works Department and Water Resources Department worked overnight to restore and patch the roadway in order to have Sand Hill open by Sunday evening.

“I commend all of these departments, the Fire Department, the Water Department, Public Works and the Police Department who all responded and worked through the weekend to make that happen,” Jackson said.

There were more thanks and recognitions to go around, often for City of Asheville employees, teams and partnerships that worked behind the scenes to achieve goals important to the community or earn accolades for outstanding achievement.

Women’s Pipe Tapping Team

• The Water Resources Department Women’s Pipe Tapping Team was recognized for an outstanding women’s pipe tap time during the 93rd Annual North Carolina American Water Works Association Conference. The Women’s Pipe Tapping Team (The Copperheads) put up a time of 2 minutes 40 seconds. The National AWWA winning time for a Women’s team was just a mere 20 seconds off.

The Water Resources Department Women’s Pipe Tapping Team are:

Michelle Smith
Brenna Cook
Virginia Pardo
Myrriah Ringgenberg

Water Distribution Operator of the Year Award
Operators Meritorious Service Award

• In 2013, Timothy Burdine Jr. , an 11-year employee of the City’s Water Services Department, was awarded both the Water Distribution Operator of the Year Award from the North Carolina American Water Works Association and the North Carolina Water Environment Association’s Operators Meritorious Service Award.

Tim was recognized for these awards due to his recent work in implementing new advanced practices in leak detection and valve maintenance for the Water Maintenance Division. In addition, Tim’s has gone above and beyond to understand customer needs and assist however possible.

Asheville Silver Walk Friendly Community

• Asheville was recently named a Silver-level Walk Friendly Community by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center in Chapel Hill. Asheville is one of 44 Walk Friendly Communities in the nation, and the fourth city to be so designated in NC and the first in the state to achieve silver status.

Areas and activities that were noted as particularly impressive are the Asheville Police Department focus on targeted crash reduction, Asheville’s high-quality sidewalk design standards and ordinances that promote dense, mixed-use development, and the city’s avenues for gathering input and collaborating with residents, specifically the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and Asheville’s neighborhood coordinator.

Employees recognized were:
Barb Mee
Sgt Scott Pruett
Officer Jon Derrick
Scott Barnwell
Alan Glines

This achievement would not have been possible without the application team of Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force volunteers, and the cooperation of several city staff members who provided information for the application.

ISO Building Code Effectiveness Grading Classification 2

• The Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule measures effectiveness of building safety programs. Scores range from 1 to 10 with low scores representing the highest quality (a score of 1 is considered “exemplary”.) An Insurance Services Office audit of the City’s program this summer resulted in scores of 2 for both the residential and commercial building safety programs.

These scores show a dedication to quality, professionalism and customer service on the part of our building safety employees.

ISO ratings also impact insurance scores statewide, and low scores like the one achieved by the City of Asheville result in lower insurance rates across North Carolina.

Employees recognized were:

Mark Case Joe Chennault
Abigail Riley Jay Eichhorn
Susannah Carver Alec Arthur
Alisha Carrol Eric Evans
Heather Rhinehart Steve Bothelo
Jamie Fortner Gary Sanders
Sheila Salyer Garrett Gates
Misty Lipe Jim Hayes
Amy Tesner Anne Graham
Diane Meek Chris Rossi
Kim Levi Jerry Reese
Ron Evans Gary Stamey
Scott Metcalf Mark Matheny

ACEC Excellence in Engineering – RADTIP Design Project

• The American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina (ACEC/NC)Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) is an annual competition that honors and recognizes engineering and surveying firms for projects which demonstrate the highest degree of achievement, value and ingenuity.

On November 7, 2013, the engineering firm of CDM Smith and the City of Asheville received an Honors Award for the preliminary design of the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project, or RADTIP. The RADTIP will upgrade the roadway, add greenways, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other amenities adjacent to a 2.2-mile section of the French Broad River in the River Arts District.

Employees recognized were:

Dan Baechtold
Stephanie Monson-Dahl
Ken Putnam
Cathy Ball

ACEC Excellence in Engineering – Cherokee Retaining Wall

• Originally built in 1899, Asheville’s historic Cherokee Road retaining wall is an integral gateway component to the Albemarle Park Historic District. Over time the wall suffered damage due to subsurface water, erosion, and increased demands from vehicular traffic. The purpose of the project was to reconstruct the wall to maintain its historic appearance and character, while upgrading the roadway and underground infrastructure, all while encouraging a high level of community involvement. On November 7, 2013, the project won the North Carolina Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies Grand Award for Small Projects for engineering excellence. This project was identified and approved for the FY 2012 Capital Improvement Program by City Council. The Public Works Department’s Streets & Engineering Division staff worked diligently with a local engineering firm Baker Engineering to design, and construct this project. The following City staff each played key roles in making this project happen.

Employees recognized were:
Greg Shuler
John Gavin
Brian Estes
Lee Morrison
Stacy Merten

Leave a Comment January 23, 2014

City of Asheville/NCDOT partnership to bring major sidewalk expansion to Hendersonville Road

At its October 22 meeting, Asheville City Council unanimously approved a partnership with the NCDOT that will result in a major sidewalk expansion in South Asheville. The project, slated to begin in 2014, will see sidewalks installed on both sides of Hendersonville Road from I-40 to Long Shoals Road – adding walkability to a stretch of highway approximately 5.3 miles long.

“This is a huge project and a great addition to our sidewalk network,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s Streets and Engineering manager. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The partnership includes a major federal funding match, with 80 percent of project funds provided by the Surface Transportation Program – Directly Attributable (STP-DA) through the NCDOT. The funds were allocated by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization which is charged with administering STP-DA funding at the regional level. The City of Asheville will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent of funding as well as administering and conducting the work on the sidewalk installation. The city’s $825,000 match is included in the city’s FY 2013/2014 capital improvement budget.

Hendersonville Road represents a large and growing section of South Asheville, as well as a gateway into Biltmore Village, and this project will enhance access and safety for people who walk along this corridor of residential areas, businesses, and retail and dining destinations.

Asheville City Council has prioritized pedestrian safety and infrastructure in its 2013/2014 strategic plan, and projects like the Hendersonville Road sidewalk project advance that goal.

Following Council’s approval, the agreement goes to Raleigh for final approval. Shuler says there is plenty to do before breaking ground next fall – local easements need to be established with adjacent property owners and historic properties need to be evaluated. Work will continue alongside the NCDOT to identify rights-of-way while the city will research and identify environmental considerations like flood zones and impact on wildlife.

Another important step in the planning stages, Shuler points out, is community participation, and the city will host community input meetings and invite feedback from the public on the project. Public input opportunities will be announced by press release and posted on the City of Asheville’s information outlets including, and

More from the CoABlog:

New sidewalks coming to Overlook Road

Leave a Comment November 6, 2013

Spotlight on Boards and Commissions

Looking for a great way to get involved in local government and play a part in shaping the future of Asheville? Serving on an Asheville City Council Board or Commission is a great place to start. More than 250 people serve on 35 advisory boards and help guide policy decisions for the City of Asheville.

Each month, in the interest of engaging with the public, we offer a profile of one of these valuable advisory boards. To see a list of openings on Council Boards and Commissions through 2014, click here.

Council Board and Commission profile: Recreation Advisory Board

Formed in: 1964
Number of members: Nine
Term: Three years

With more than 60 parks and facilities, the City of Asheville’s parks and recreation system represents the city’s third largest budget item. Thousands of people enjoy the city’s parks or participate in recreational programs hosted a community centers and special facilities each week, and the parks represent some of the most visible resources offered by the City of Asheville.

The Recreation Advisory Board takes on a host of responsibilities that add to the city’s ever growing network of public recreational spaces.

“I think it’s incredible that we have so many facilities in a city this size,” says board chair Wayne Wheeler.

Wheeler, who has served on the Recreation Advisory Board since 2009, has seen recommendations cross Asheville City Council’s desk such as the ban on smoking in city parks, and says serving on a board or commission is an excellent way to learn more about Asheville. “I think it’s good for citizens to get involved,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about Asheville, parks and recreation and other parts of the city just by being part of this.”

In the past couple of years, the Recreation Advisory Board deliberated and voted on issues from greenway expansion to design plans for the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center to deferred maintenance projects in city parks.

“Asheville’s parks are a remarkable community resource,” says Debbie Ivester, Assistant Director of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. “And the Recreation Advisory Board is an excellent example of how community leaders can have very visible results.”

The City of Asheville is currently advertising for applicants for the Recreation Advisory Board as well as the ABC Board and the Police Advisory Committee. Applications are due by November 6. If you would like to apply for any of these boards or commissions, contact the City Clerk at (828) 259-5601 or or follow this link for more information.

Leave a Comment October 30, 2013

Public/private partnership restores high-speed communication to Asheville’s emergency responders

Fire engines and police cruisers alike lit up on September 17 at the Murphy-Oakley Community Center and Fire Station Building, but they were not responding to an emergency. The blue and red lights were flashing in celebration of a high-speed communication connection that means better and faster service responses by Asheville’s emergency responders.

The City of Asheville Information Technology Services Department has been working on restoring the fiber-optic reconnection since 2009, and the accomplishment was the result of a great community collaboration. Asheville-based Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas (ERC), which received a grant in 2012 in partnership with North Carolina-based MCNC to enhance its fiber-optic network in Western North Carolina, has partnered with the City of Asheville to connect 12 Fire Stations and 4 Police Stations to dispatchers using its new fiber optic network. The move provides the fastest emergency alert notification available and saves the City of Asheville the approximately $5 million it would have cost to install its own fiber network.

“In a project of this magnitude, there are a lot of moving parts,” said Jonathan Feldmen, the city’s Chief Information Officer. Feldman presented plaques to the ERC’s Executive Director Hunter Goosmann as well as representatives from the Reed Memorial Baptist Church, which allowed the city to use its steeple for a wireless connection while the communication system was in transition.

Joined by firefighters and police officers who rely on the ability to respond quickly in emergency situations, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy spotlighted the increased public safety and even its impacts on the city’s accreditation. “Today we are talking about how to make sure people are even safer,” she said. “To the IT Department, this shows your commitment to making sure the City of Asheville is wired and at a low cost.”

In 2012, Asheville City Council approved a franchise agreement with the ERC in support of the partnership that provides the high-speed fiber-optic access.

Leave a Comment September 20, 2013

Neighborhood celebrates completion of Cherokee Road retaining wall

When you replace a 100-year old wall, you have big shoes to fill. At the September 12 dedication the new retaining wall at Cherokee Road, residents of the Albemarle neighborhood stood alongside City of Asheville personnel and project contractors to celebrate the marriage of modern structural design and historic aesthetics that went into the project.

“This is going to be here a lot longer than any of us,” said the city’s Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler. “I am proud to be part of a team that is exceptional in every way.”

With the help of community input and collaboration, the replacement of the 70-foot retaining wall was identified as a priority for the city. Age, erosion and even a few impacts over the years had taken a toll on the original wall, located at the intersection of Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive. Needed stormwater upgrades were included in the project, making the intersection safer and less vulnerable to erosion.

Care was taken to preserve the historic look of the wall and its place in the surrounding neighborhood, and original stone was used as a veneer on top of modern concrete. The neighborhood, project engineers and the City of Asheville’s Historic Resources Commission worked closely together to ensure that the final product matched the character of the Albemarle neighborhood, which is listed as both a local and national historic district.

“It is wonderful to live in a city which recognizes that beauty and craftsmanship are as important as function,” said neighborhood resident and Albemarle Park-Manor Grounds Association Board Member Rich Mathews.

The construction team was on site to celebrate the opening, including project manager Brian Estes, Senior Project Engineer John Gavin, Construction Inspector Lee Morrison, and Administrative Assistant Kathi Willis. Representatives from contractor Buchanan and Sons and design consultant Michael Baker Engineering were also on the site, as was Historic Resources Commission Director Stacy Merten.

Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell praised the effort, pointing out the economic development impact that preserving historic aesthetics has on Asheville. As more businesses choose to relocate to Asheville for its quality of life, paying attention to and maintaining the character of the city’s neighborhoods supports economic growth.

“The city has a lot to be proud of here,” Bothwell said.

More on the Cherokee Road retaining wall project:

Cherokee Road retaining wall project echoes historic look

Celebration for the completion of the Cherokee Road retaining wall

Leave a Comment September 19, 2013

Heroism, accomplishments by city employees, recognized by Mayor and City Council

Six city employees were recognized by Asheville City Council at its August 13 meeting. Council thanked for their hard work, drive for improvement, and, in one case, heroism.

Darlene Barnwell, who works in the city’s Customer Service Division, received a standing ovation for her heroic rescue of an 8-year-old boy who was being attacked by dogs in a neighbor’s yard. In May, Barnwell was drawn away from a cookout she was hosting to assist in a search for the boy. When she found him in a neighbor’s yard being attacked by the dogs, she climbed a barbed wire fence, managed to distract the dogs, then pick up the boy and carry him out of the yard.

“We’re so proud of you Darlene,” said City Manager Gary Jackson. “And it touches our hearts that you would do that.”

Council also recognized Asheville Fire Department Battalion Chief Joy Ponder for completing the four-year National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. Last year, while going through the program, Ponder became the AFD’s first female Battalion Chief.

The City’s Purchasing Manager Amy Patterson was congratulated for earning the title of Certified Local Government Purchasing Officer through the North Carolina School of Government. The certification means that Patterson and the City’s Purchasing Division are recognized as providers of efficient, fair and transparent business practices.

Darryl Rice, Rob Martin and Kevin Haughinberry of the City’s Fleet Division were recognized for completing specialized training and certification to inspect low-emission CNG vehicles in the city’s fleet. Their training saves the city time and money when using the low-emission vehicles.

Click the screen above to see a video of Council’s City of Asheville Employee Recognition from August 13.

Leave a Comment August 14, 2013

Collaboration, economic development and bringing business to Asheville

The President’s choice for Asheville as his first stop following Tuesday’s State of the Union Address highlights an exciting success story in the city and region’s job growth and economic development efforts.

Linamar’s 2011 announcement that it would locate its manufacturing facility in Asheville, and the swift news of its expansion in 2012, means a collective 650 new jobs and a revival of the manufacturing industry that has historically been the backbone of the region.

Job growth and economic development are among the city’s top strategic goals. The City of Asheville’s investments into its infrastructure focus an eye on keeping Asheville a good place to do business and supporting a skilled workforce.

“Our goal is to create an environment that builds on the quality of life Asheville offers and encourages companies to come here, stay here and expand here,” said Lauren Bradley, the city’s Finance and Management Services Director.

Having a strong pool of skilled workers in the area is also crucial to attracting business to Asheville, and the educational opportunities provided by local community colleges ensure that we have an exceptional workforce. Keeping them here is just as important. Asheville’s dedication to quality of life is reflected in strategies like affordable housing and in its complete streets policy, which shows its commitment to multi-modal transportation options.

That commitment was integral in attracting businesses like New Belgium Brewing, which is bringing $175 million in capital improvements and more than 175 jobs by building its east coast facility here.

Attracting businesses like Linamar and New Belgium would not be possible without important collaborations between groups like the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, a public-private partnership of which the City of Asheville is a part, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Buncombe County, and advocates at the state level.

Economic development collaborations have resulted in recent success stories like the construction of the Aloft Hotel and a new city-owned parking deck, the expansion of Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc.’s operations within the City which brought with it 110 jobs, and the development of Biltmore Park Town Square, a 42-acre mixed-use development of office, retail and residential space.

Leave a Comment February 14, 2013

2013 Board and Commission openings a great opportunity for citizen involvement

There are seven elected members on Asheville City Council, but that body relies on more than 250 people serving on 35 council-appointed Boards and Commissions to help guide policy for the City of Asheville.

From the Downtown Commission to the Greenway Commission to the newly formed Neighborhood Advisory Committee, these are the groups that deliberate and advise on a wide range of issues facing Asheville. Citizen involvement is crucial in making decisions that affect the city, and the recommendations of Council’s Boards and Commissions play a big role in Council’s decisions. Some of the most influential policies in the City of Asheville have their beginnings in one of these bodies.

With so many advisory bodies, seats frequently come up for consideration; in 2013, there will be openings on 22 City Council Boards and Commissions. To fill those seats, City Clerk Maggie Burleson sends out regular announcements of upcoming board vacancies. Asheville City Council selects and interviews applicants, and appoints members all in a public forum. A typical term is three years. There is a lot of great information about applying and serving on a Council Board or Commission here.

But hopefuls don’t have to wait until a vacancy is announced. Applications can be submitted at any time and will be held for up to a year. Click here to download an application.

To receive regular notifications of Board and Commission Vacancies, contact City Clerk Maggie Burleson at 259-5601 or Notices are also posted on the City of Asheville website and on the City of Asheville’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Click here to see the upcoming Board and Commission vacancies for 2013 and early 2014.

Click here to see the “Talent Scout” brochure.

Leave a Comment January 8, 2013

New Patton Avenue sidewalk connectors increase pedestrian access

The final touches are underway on two sections of sidewalk along Patton Avenue that provide safer walking routes for pedestrians along the busy corridor. The two linkages, one from Parkwood Road to Leicester Highway and another from Regent Park Boulevard to the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge (formerly the Smokey Park Bridge), total a combined 4,150 linear feet of new sidewalk but link together a much larger network of sidewalks that stretches from the Capt. Bowen Bridge to the Smokey Park Highway. The route gets a high rate of use by pedestrians for its connection to retail and grocery stores along Patton as well as its proximity to bus stops on the City of Asheville ART system.

sidewalks city of asheville

“This one really rose to the top in our pedestrian master plan,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “And it provides walking access to multiple stores, the Westgate shopping center and along the interchange at Patton Avenue, I-26 and I-240 which was tricky for pedestrians to say the least.”

The design includes safety railings along shoulders where traffic is exiting and entering the interstates and involved a collaboration between the City of Asheville and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The Patton Avenue connections are just two examples of several sidewalk projects that are in some stage of development in the City of Asheville, including another recently completed section on North Louisiana Avenue, a section under construction on Lyman Street in the River Arts District, and a stretch along Tunnel Road in collaboration with the NCDOT that is underway and will eventually connect downtown to the ABCCM Veteran’s Quarters. A sidewalk project along Hendersonville Road is in the planning stages.

The City of Asheville pedestrian plan identifies 110 miles of needed pedestrian linkages that are prioritized using several factors including proximity to community destinations, safety concerns and feasibility of construction.

In the case of the two Patton Avenue connectors, those factors all added up to a green light. “This one really jumped off the charts,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s streets and engineering manager. “We are fortunate that City Council has put a high priority on this kind of infrastructure,” Shuler said.

mapasheville sidewalk pedestrian master plan

The Patton Avenue linkages were paid for with City of Asheville capital improvement project funds, but sidewalk projects throughout the city are funded through a combination of sources, including Community Development Block Grants and federal funding like Safe Routes to Schools which provides money for projects that make it easy and safe for students to walk to school. The North Louisiana sidewalk project that connects neighboring students with Emma Elementary School combined Safe Routes to Schools funding with federal CDBG funds and a Job Access/Reverse Commute grant through the Federal Transit Administration.

Click here to see more about the City of Asheville’s Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan.

1 Comment September 18, 2012

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