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East of the Riverway initiative explores sustainable development alternatives

On March 25, the City of Asheville issued a Request for Proposals for a study for alternatives to gentrification in the East of the Riverway area. The RFP marks a next big step in a planning project focused on supporting a collaborative and concerted revitalization project that also promotes sustainable development.

“What we are talking about is affordability,” says Community Development Director Jeff Staudinger. “As much of the city changes and develops, there are a lot of people in this area who love their community and who are concerned that it will change in a way that excludes them.”

The East of the Riverway area is made up of roughly 1,100 acres to the east of the French Broad River and stretches from Hilliard Avenue south to Meadow Road and the Swannanoa River. It includes Asheville’s River Arts District and the WECAN, South French Broad, Walton Street, Livingston Street and Erskine neighborhoods.

The East of the Riverway Sustainable Multimodal Neighborhood model combines neighborhood sustainability, infill development and multi-modal transportation options to address inequity that historically arises from traditional urban development scenarios. Increased housing choices, and better access to transportation and entrepreneurial opportunity all have the potential to encourage economically diverse neighborhoods and livable communities.

Asheville City Council has made affordable housing and multimodal transportation top priorities in its strategic goals.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the City of Asheville an $850,000 Tiger II grant for use in the East of the Riverway planning process.

With new development like the New Belgium Brewery on the way, and with imminent development of greenway routes, the East of the Riverway area is in the spotlight both for growth and the need for strategies that maintain housing affordability for existing neighborhood residents.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, the community participated in surveys, focus groups and input meetings to explore transportation needs and the preservation of neighborhood history. On March 18, city planning staff and the planning study consulting teams met with over 70 community members to explain how the voices of community members factored into the planning process and directly influenced the proposed transportation and economic improvements.

That meeting marked the beginning of the next stage of the East of the Riverway Livable Communities initiative. City planners have issued a Request for Proposals for alternatives to gentrification and to put into play the real solutions for sustainable growth.

Proposals for alternatives could take several directions, from artist live-work housing and Community Land Trusts to Co-Housing and cooperative property ownership. These are the kinds of ideas that can be examined as possible tools to help ensure long-term affordability for existing stakeholders.

See the Request for Proposals for Alternatives to Gentrification study here.

Find out more about the East of the Riverway initiative at: www.eastoftheriverway.com.

Leave a Comment April 3, 2014

2014 Asheville Way Awards spotlight exemplary service

Each year, the City of Asheville recognizes outstanding achievement and service by employees with the Asheville Way Awards. Nominees are proposed by their own colleagues and the winners of each category were named at a ceremony at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr., Southside Center on Wednesday, March 12.

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Below are the nominees for each category, with the winners in bold, as well as photos from the event. Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved!

2014 Asheville Way Awards nominees

Continuous Improvement
James Bell, Parks and Recreation
Tim Bayless, Public Works
Ed Eads, APD
Steve Fridl, AFD
Stephanie Monson-Dahl, Economic Improvement
Steven Frey, Information Technology

Integrity
William Allen Sr., Public Works
Joseph Meadows, AFD

Diversity
Patrick Crudup, AFD
Robert “Rock” Jones, Public Works

Safety and Welfare
Bobby Austin, Public Works
Darlene Barnwell, Water
Roger Massey, Water
Michael Webb, AFD

Excellent Service
Randy Anders, Parks and Recreation
Nicole Hart, Water
Jakob Klodt, Public Works
Stephanie O’Conner, Public Works
Byron Silvers, AFD

Outstanding Leadership
Chris Budzinski, AFD
David Carr, Human Resources
Donald Fender, Public Works
Karen Gillespie, U.S. Cellular Center
Arther Hensley, Public Works
Joe Silberman, APD

Above and Beyond
Melody Cox, APD
Jeff Hair, Water
Eric Hardy, Finance
Jeremy Hyatt, Public Works
Diane Meek, Development Services Center
Michael Riley, AFD
Lisa Taube, APD

Rising Ster
Matthew Spielman Argonauta, Public Works
Rodney Arrowood, Water
Chris Corl, U.S. Cellular Center
Dakota Maynor, General Services
Joshua Kingry, APD
Daniel “Trey” Young, AFD

Outstanding Team
AFD Recruitment Team
APD Public Housing Team
APD South Central A Days
APD South Central B Nights
Engineering Project Team
Health Services Team
HVAC Controls Team
PRCA Trades Workers Team
Storm Damage Repair Team

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Leave a Comment March 14, 2014

City hosts reverse vendor fair April 9

The City of Asheville is excited to invite area vendors interested in doing business with the city to participate in a Reverse Vendor Fair on April 9. This is a great opportunity for vendors to speak directly with city department representatives and to find out more about what contract and bid opportunities the City of Asheville offers. Departments will also provide information about upcoming projects and bidding opportunities. The vendor fair will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center and admission is free.

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Here are more details:

The City of Asheville is excited to invite regional vendors interested in doing business with the city to participate in the second annual Reverse Vendor Fair on April 9. This is a great opportunity for vendors to speak directly with city department representatives and to find out more about what contract and bid opportunities the City of Asheville offers. Departments will also provide information about upcoming projects and bidding opportunities. The vendor fair is a “free” walk through event that will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Additionally, on April 9, City staff members from the Office of Economic Development and the Purchasing Department will conduct a workshop on “The Business of Public Contracting.” The workshop will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Banquet Hall, U.S. Cellular Center. Attendance is free, but RSVP is required by Monday, April 7th, as space is limited.
Workshop will include the following:

· Being an Active Vendor
· Contracting Thresholds & Types
· How Contracts are Bid and Awarded
· How to Find City of Asheville Bidding Opportunities & the City’s Outreach for Minorities & Women Vendors

For more information about the vendor fair and how you can participate and RSVP for the training opportunities on event day, please contact or Brenda Mills at (828) 259-8050 or bmills@ashevillenc.gov or Amy Patterson at (828) 259-5953 or apatterson@ashevillenc.gov. Information and updates can be found at the city’s website at www.ashevillenc.gov/bids.

Leave a Comment March 12, 2014

Ceremonies greet Mayor Manheimer and Council Members, honor outgoing Mayor Bellamy.

In a Dec. 10 planning meeting in the City Council Chamber, Esther Manheimer took an oath of office making her Asheville’s newest Mayor. Serving as vice-mayor for the past two years, Manheimer was elected to City Council in 2009.

Council’s newest addition, Gwen Wisler, also took an oath of office, as did re-elected Council members Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith. All were surrounded by friends, family and supporters as Council prepares to move into a new year.

Mayor Esther Manheimer is sworn in at the Dec. 10 ceremony.

In an earlier ceremony, outgoing two-term mayor Terry Bellamy was presented with her portrait to hang outside the Council Chamber.

Cecil Bothwell was re-elected to a second term on Asheville City Council.

Re-elected Council member Gordon Smith takes the oath of office.

Gwen Wisler is Council's newest addition, having been elected to her seat in November.

The new lineup. After the ceremony, Council held its first meeting and the last of 2013. The next Council meeting will be held Jan. 14, 2014.

Bellamy's portrait hangs outside Council Chambers in City Hall alongside the portraits of 45 former Asheville Mayors.

Leave a Comment December 13, 2013

Wanted! Community video footage of Council and Mayor ceremony.

On Tuesday Dec. 10, the City of Asheville celebrated the swearing in of City Council members and a new mayor, as well as an appreciation of an outgoing mayor. Only minutes before that event, the city’s broadcasting and video equipment suffered a technical issue that shut down cameras in the City Council Chamber and the live stream to the internet. Fortunately, the cameras, audio, and live feed were restored in time to broadcast this important event to the community.

Unfortunately, the malfunction also affected the video recording capability leaving us with only audio files of the ceremony and the statements made by Council members.

And that’s where this unusual request comes in! As would be expected, there were a lot of people who came to City Hall to mark this occasion, and many brought video cameras and smart phones to record the event. As we would like to commemorate the event on our web site and have a memento for our archives, the City of Asheville is asking members of the public who attended the ceremony for their video and still photo submissions of the ceremony. We will take the footage and photos and edit them together into a montage to play over the audio recording.

If you have video footage or photos you would like to submit, please send your email address to bpostelle@ashevillenc.gov and we will send you an invite to post content to the city’s online Dropbox account (submissions will not be public until editing is complete). Or, if you have your own Dropbox account, you can send a “share” invite to bpostelle@ashevillenc.gov and we can retrieve files from there.

Any quality or angle is appreciated, but larger photo files will have better quality. And if we use your media, we will credit you in a “Thanks to…” frame at the end of the video.

This is an important occasion for the community and with your submissions we can create a video with a true community character.

Leave a Comment December 11, 2013

Boards and Commissions Spotlight: Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee

Looking for a 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 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: Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee
Formed in: 2008
Number of members: 16
Term: Three years
Meets: Fourth Monday of each month, 11 a.m., Housing Authority Board Room, 165 S. French Broad Avenue

With 16 members, the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee is one of the larger boards in the City of Asheville and is one of only a handful that has members appointed by both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. That’s because the issue of homelessness affects a broad area and population not restricted to city limits.

In 2007, Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners approved the 10-Year-Plan to End Homelessness and formed the Homeless Initiative. Director Heather Dillashaw is the initiative’s only staffer, and says the advisory committee is critical for advancing the goals of the 10-Year-Plan, researching and tracking data that paint an accurate, useful picture of homelessness in the area.

“They are the Initiative. Their work is the reason we reduced chronic homelessness by 82 percent since 2006,” Dillashaw said. “They are the reason we are on track with the 10-year-plan.”

The Homeless Initiative receives approximately $1 million in Federal funding annually and one of the HIAC’s biggest jobs is to determine where those resources can do the most good. Often, those recommendations go to Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, which works to prioritize affordable housing issues. Affordability remains at the top of Asheville City Council’s strategic operating plan.

Recommendations from the HIAC have resulted in reduced chronic homelessness as well as the cases of veterans experiencing homelessness. Efforts continue to address the “hard to house” population as well as the issue of family and youth homelessness, all of which require different resources and strategies.

HIAC members are often involved with service providers and agencies that deal with homelessness issues, and serve on a variety of sub committees according to their expertise. But committee chair David Nash says that members from outside those organizations provide critical input as well.

“The real value of this group is having a lot of different perspectives in the room,” says Nash, who serves as Deputy Director of the City of Asheville Housing Authority.
“It helps having members of the public there to ask questions that those of us closer to the issues wouldn’t think about.”

The City of Asheville is currently advertising for applicants for the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee as well as the Board of Adjustment, the Community Relations Council, the Fireman’s Relief Fund, the Metropolitan Sewerage District Board, the Riverfront Area Redevelopment Commission, the Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment and the Tree Commission. Applications are due by January 8, 2014. If you would like to apply for any of these boards or commissions, contact the City Clerk at (828) 259-5601 or mburleson@ashevillenc.gov or follow this link for more information.

Leave a Comment December 11, 2013

Neighborhood Profile: Five Points Neighborhood

This is the latest in a series of profiles highlighting the City of Asheville’s vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. The City of Asheville maintains a list of neighborhoods who have registered as official organizations. Each month we will invite one of these to tell you a little more about the place they call home. If you are not sure if your neighborhood is on our listing, please contact Neighborhood Coordinator Marsha Stickford at mstickford@ashevillenc.gov.

Name of group: Five Points Neighborhood Association
Formed when: Formed in the mid 1990s
Location: Five Points neighborhood is situated about a mile north of the city of Asheville. It sits between Merrimon Avenue and Broadway and continues north to North Street near UNC Asheville.

What qualities make your neighborhood unique?

Many of the houses are historic and beautiful wooden bungalows and craftsman 4 squares built between 1900 and 1925. The neighborhood is centrally located, and great for walking or biking into town, Montford, UNC Asheville, and local schools. We have sidewalks on most of our streets.

Who are the people that make up your neighborhood?

There is an eclectic mix of people living in Five Points–the neighbors generally know each other and help each other out. Some folks have lived in the neighborhood for generations, but now we are seeing more young families moving in, as well as recent retirees looking for a walkable neighborhood experience. We have professionals, craftsmen, teachers, professors, students, chefs, acupuncturists, health care workers, many artists, activists, musicians, photographers and fantastic gardeners.

What is some of your neighborhood’s history?

The neighborhood was one of the first bedroom communities in the City of Asheville. The streetcar service used to run up to Mt. Clare Avenue and end at Hillside, an area we call Little Five Points. That is why that street is wider than any of the others. The estate of Mr. George Pack, of Pack Square fame in Asheville sat where the new Harris Teeter site sits today. The estate was called Many Oaks and there was a large mansion there with a grand stone wall encircling it. In the 1970s the building fell into disrepair and it was demolished. The neighborhood, like most of the city of Asheville went through a rough patch but began to revive again in the 1990s.

What role does your neighborhood play as part of Asheville’s community?

Our neighbors care deeply about local government, the environment, safety and helping Asheville to be a more progressive city. We are a vocal group of concerned citizens. We have worked closely with the city, helping government understand our needs and concerns, most recently regarding the highway business zoning of the Harris Teeter site. Also, there is a program going on to help solarize Asheville neighborhoods. Many of our neighbors in Five Points will be incorporating solar power into their homes in the coming months. There is also talk of a community garden.

What are some of the things you look forward to in the future of your neighborhood?

We look forward to traffic calming on some of our streets because of new development on Merrimon. We have concerns about cut through traffic and congestion on our very narrow city streets. We have been working closely with the city’s traffic department to facilitate this. We’d like to see sidewalks on streets that are lacking them. Graffiti is also problem in our neighborhood; we’d like to see less of it, and possibly more art in its place.

Name something that you would like to see to make your neighborhood better.

We would like a good buffer between the Harris Teeter site and the neighborhood homes, safe streets without fear of speeding cars and cut through traffic. Less graffiti and more gardens and art, more block parties, pot luck dinners, preservation of houses and good neighbors.

Leave a Comment October 24, 2013

Shiloh Community Celebration Sept. 7!

Leave a Comment September 6, 2013

Feedback wanted on conceptual designs for riverfront at drop-in public meeting Aug. 20.

The public is invited to come to 344 Depot St. (Pink Dog Creative) between 4 and 7 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 20 to see conceptual designs by eight local designers for 10 acres of publicly-owned property on the French Broad Riverfront. Your input is wanted!

Details on the flyer below:

Leave a Comment August 19, 2013

School starts Aug. 21. Be careful out there!

The Asheville Police Department has the following information and video about staying safe as school starts back:

On Wednesday August 21, 2013, Asheville City Schools will be back in session. We ask for your assistance in keeping our children safe as they return to school. Please remember that traffic will be congested near city schools and plan your route accordingly. Remember to look for kids at bus stops and be aware of when you need to stop for a school bus when it is loading or unloading passengers.

Traffic in both directions must stop on two lane roads, two lane roads with a center turning lane, four lane roadway without a center turn lane or median divider (for example Merrimon Ave, Charlotte St). Only traffic following the school bus needs to stop on a four lane road with a center divider or median separation of a center turn lane (North Carolina General Statute 20-217). Be aware that school zone speed limits will be enforced and that APD officers will be running radar.

Please see the Asheville Police Department Traffic Safety Unit’s PSA regarding safe motoring as school starts.

Leave a Comment August 16, 2013

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