UNC Asheville announces greenway linkage at Reed Creek

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UNC Asheville has announced the construction of a greenway linking the campus to Reed Creek Greenway, Montford and Downtown. Here’s the exciting announcement:

Greenway Work Begins at 525 Broadway with Support from the Federal Recreational Trails Program and Various Funders
Tuesday, Mar 11th, 2014

ASHEVILLE – With all environmental, archaeological and regulatory reviews complete, work will begin this month at 525 Broadway on the Reed Creek Greenway linking UNC Asheville and Montford with downtown. The nine-acre parcel was purchased by the UNC Asheville Foundation in 2012 from TD Bank.

The greenway construction work is made possible by a combination of public and private funding, with financial support coming from a $200,000 grant from the Federal Recreational Trails Program administered by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation; the City of Asheville; the UNC Asheville Foundation; RiverLink, UNC Asheville students; the Montford Neighborhood Association; and most recently, a $30,000 grant from the Glass Foundation, a private family foundation based in Asheville, and a $30,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

“UNC Asheville is so grateful to all of our partners, public and private, including the Glass Foundation and the individual donors who have helped make this possible,” said Buffy Bagwell, UNC Asheville vice chancellor for university advancement. “We are excited to be starting construction on the greenway.”

“A lot has been done already to clean up and stabilize the property,” said John Pierce, treasurer of the UNC Asheville Foundation. “Now with the reviews complete and funding in place, we can complete the greenway and associated landscaping and site work so students, bikers, runners and walkers can have a great way to get back and forth from downtown.”

“RiverLink is so excited to be adding yet another ‘missing link’ in the greenway system that will begin to connect UNC Asheville to the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay and the river greenway system we have been developing and promoting since 1994,” said Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink. “Our Deeds of Support have been a vital tool in developing greenways and at $50 a foot it’s a great value to help ensure that forever we will have some green, multimodal public space in our city.”

“The public-private partnership has made this possible,” said Roderick Simmons, City of Asheville director of parks and recreation. “The city has long supported greenway development and multimodal transportation. Once work is complete we hope to see lots of folks making use of the greenway.”

J.L.S. Company LLC has been selected as contractor for the work. Completion is expected by June 2014.

See more on the Reed Creek Greenway here.

Leave a Comment March 11, 2014

Montford Center reopens gym after renovations, celebration March 13

Bring your A-game! The Montford Recreation Center gymnasium, closed for renovations since August, has reopened and reintroduced programming to the newly unveiled facility. The improvements include a new maple wood sports flooring system as well as competition-level fiberglass backboards with breakaway goals, wall pads and bleachers.

New wallpads and bleachers make the facility top-notch for players and spectators.

New wallpads and bleachers make the facility top-notch for players and spectators.

The renovations were completed in early February, and athletic groups are once again playing sports like basketball, volleyball, badminton and table tennis at the center. The climbing wall is also back in use, with a new textured paint job that better simulates a rock surface.

“We are so excited to have this popular facility reopened and the renovations are fantastic,” said Center Director Kim Kennedy.

A new floor, new baskets and backboards and LED lighting are highlights of the Montford Center's reopened gymnasium

A new floor, new baskets and backboards and LED lighting are highlights of the Montford Center’s reopened gymnasium

The gymnasium also got a new paint job and new LED lighting. The LEDs save an estimated $6,500 a year in electric costs and have a positive impact on carbon reduction equal to planting 24 football fields of forests. Additionally, the LEDs operate on a dimmer and have immediate turn-on, turn off capability. That saves even more energy, as the previous lighting took time to warm up and had to be left on all day. The LED replacement resulted in a $9,000 rebate from Duke Energy Progress – funding that will go into more sustainable upgrades in parks facilities.

The Montford Recreation Center entrances will soon be replaced to improve accessibility and bathroom renovation designs are in the works, said Project Manager Pete Wall.

The City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department has plans to make improvements to other recreation centers as funding becomes available, including the Linwood Crump Shiloh Complex and the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center.

The Montford Recreation Center will officially recognize the renovations and re-opening with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend and see the work that has been done.

The climbing wall got a new coat of textured paint that better simulates rock

The climbing wall got a new coat of textured paint that better simulates rock

For information about programs at the Montford Center, go to www.ashevillenc.gov/parks.

Leave a Comment March 4, 2014

Removal of Haywood Street parking facility set to begin March 11

The demolition of the downtown city-owned vacant parking structure at 68 Haywood Street near the corner of Page Avenue is slated to begin the second week of March and be completed by the end of the month. Use of the parking structure, sometimes called the Handipark, was discontinued due to safety reasons in 2010.
Handipark

Outside contractors could begin installing safety fences and barricades as soon as Feb. 28, and demolition is scheduled to begin March 11. Nearby businesses have been consulted and the city’s project manager says the demolition will take into consideration the sensitive location and populated area.

“This demolition is taking place in an area that has a high rate of foot and vehicle traffic, and is in close proximity to many neighboring buildings and businesses,” said project manager John Gavin. “We have taken measures to make sure that the structure is removed with minimal disturbance.”

No blasting will take place during the demolition, and seismic sensors were installed in mid-February to gather data on ground disturbance. Work will take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Additionally, work will stop between March 6 and March 11 to allow for the SoCon Basketball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center, which is expected to attract thousands of fans to that location. During the demolition process, the contractor will be responsible for security at the site.

On completion, the open area at that location will be stabilized with retaining walls and surrounded by a safety railing.

Questions or concerns from the community can be directed to John Gavin, Project Manager, (828) 232-4580.

For more information and updates about this project go to the Project Page at http://ow.ly/u4K1n.

Leave a Comment February 27, 2014

Pedestrian and traffic improvements coming to Five Points neighborhood

In the video below, Ken Putnam, City of Asheville Transportation Department Director, discusses the upcoming traffic and pedestrian improvements to E. Chestnut Street in the Five Points Neighborhood Community.

You can find more information on the status of this project at the City of Asheville Projects Page.

Leave a Comment February 26, 2014

Look for your Recycle and Win sticker in the mail!

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Hey Asheville residents – Have you seen this sticker? Perhaps it arrived in the mail, or maybe you saw it on a neighbor’s blue recycle bin. Know what it means? If you are recycling correctly over the next six months, you could win a $50 worth of free groceries! How? The Recycle and Win program, a partnership between the City of Asheville and Coca-Cola, gives you a chance to be rewarded for your recycling efforts. Simply watch for the mailer, affix the included sticker onto your recycling cart, and recycle the acceptable materials. Our Prize Patrol will be randomly selecting 10 winners each week who, if recycling correctly, will win a $50 gift card to Ingles.

Since last week, the mailer has been going out to City of Asheville residents, so keep an eye out. If you think you may have overlooked your Recycle and Win sticker, you can pick one up at any Ingles store, but in order to participate, you must be a City of Asheville resident with residential recycling pickup.

Click here for the original Recycle and Win launch announcement.

Recycle and Win is another great way to be part of reducing landfill waste in Asheville. The City rolled out Big Blue – the 96 gallon curbside recycling cart – to residents in April of 2012. In the twelve months following, city residents recycled 25% more than the previous year, for a total of 7,600 tons of material recycled. That is more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower! Our collective recycling efforts in that year alone kept an additional 40 swimming pools worth of material out of the landfill. And that’s not all! Building on that momentum, Asheville City Council recently committed to a long-term waste reduction goal of 50% municipal solid waste reduction by the year 2035 (more on that soon!)

Between the ease of recycling in Big Blue and the chance to win a $50 gift card from Ingles each week for the next six months, we are excited for this partnership and residents’ efforts to bring us to the next level of carbon reduction. To learn more about what can and cannot be recycled in Asheville, and find out what day your recycling is picked up, click here.

Leave a Comment February 20, 2014

Asheville Police Explorer Scouts win second place in national competition

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Explorer Scouts participating in the Asheville Police Department’s Law Enforcement Explorer Post 57 took second place in the BSA’s annual Winterfest competition in Gatlinburg, TN, Feb. 7-9.

The Explorer Scouts participated in three competitions and won second place in the Vehicle Search Warrant Category. Approximately 3,000 Explorer Scouts take place in the event each year.

Explorer Post 57 is an arm of the Boy Scouts of America and was begun by the Asheville Police Department in 1991. The Asheville Police Department Explorer Scout post is open to young men and women ages 14-20 with an interest in law enforcement.

Law Enforcement Exploring provides educational training programs for young adults on the purpose, mission, and objectives of Law Enforcement. The program provides career orientation experiences, leadership opportunities, and community service activities. The primary goals of the program are to help young adults with an interest in a career path within law enforcement and to challenge them to become responsible citizens in their communities.

To find out more information about participating, contact Officer Keith McCulloch at 828-259-5834 or kmcculloch@ashevillenc.gov.

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Leave a Comment February 11, 2014

Asheville Fire Chief, Water Director tapped for top Professional Association roles

The City of Asheville is proud to announce that two of the organization’s top leadership have been recognized by professional associations as top practitioners in their field.

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Asheville Fire Department Chief Scott Burnette was awarded Career Fire Chief of the Year by the North Carolina Fire Chiefs Association at a Feb. 8 ceremony. This is the highest honor the NCFCA can bestow upon a member and speaks to the outstanding professionalism of Chief Burnette as well as the esteem with which he is held by his peers.

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Water Resources Director Steve Shoaf was chosen by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) as vice-president of the international organization, which advocates and educates for clean water across the North American Continent. Shoaf has served as North Carolina Section Director since 2012 and is one of only five people chosen for the position by the organization’s board of directors. He was elected to the post on January 19.

“We are extremely proud of Scott and Steve for these well-earned positions,” said Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson. “This kind of recognition at the state and national level speaks not only to the quality of their professionalism and leadership, but also to the level of service the City of Asheville provides.”

Burnette joined the AFD in 1995 and was appointed Fire Chief in 2009. Under his leadership, the department has achieved Accredited Department Status, a status achieved by less than two percent of departments worldwide. Burnette oversees a department of 256 uniformed firefighters.

Shoaf Joined the City of Asheville in 2009 after serving as Utilities Director for the City of Burlington for 21 years. He has been an AWWA member since 1990 and has served three terms on the North Carolina Section of the AWWA board.

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Leave a Comment February 10, 2014

Azalea Road project improves flood management, park access

Things are happening along the Swannanoa River. The river banks adjacent to Azalea Road and Gashes Creek road are undergoing a makeover that will not only ease one stream bank at the City of Asheville’s Recreation Park, but will also relocate a section of the Swannanoa to have less impact during high water events. Since December, heavy earth moving equipment has been visible making changes to the landscape in the area that will greatly improve multimodal park access and safety.

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What is it?

Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvements Project is an effort to better manage high water during flood events and create new and improved infrastructure for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists at one of the City of Asheville’s most popular park complexes.

This flood control project involves lowering a streamside multi-use field to the east of the GashesCreekBridge to give high waters a place to expand when the Swannanoa crests its banks. Another step will install breaks to slow the water down as is passes through RecreationPark. Both moves protect property and infrastructure downstream. The relocation of the stream just west of the GashesCreekBridge will straighten a curve in the river, lessening the impact it has on the steep bank below Swannanoa River Road near the intersection with Azalea Road.  This will reduce stream bank erosion in that location and prevent undercutting of the roadway.

LCASmall

Why was this location chosen?

The SwannanoaRiver, flowing from BlackMountain to its confluence with the French BroadRiver in West Asheville, is one of Asheville’s major water corridors and can be greatly affected by heavy rain events. In past rain events, flooding on the SwannanoaRiver has affected BiltmoreVillage, Swannanoa River Road and surrounding businesses and residences.

Because of the surrounding park facilities, work can be conducted in the area with minimum disruption to businesses that line other parts of this section of the river.

The location is considered part on an ongoing flood remediation study by the Army Corps of Engineers, says the city’s Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates.

An added benefit is the partnership with NCDOT to make improvements at the intersection of NC 81 and Azalea Road.  NCDOT plans to install a traffic signal and turn lane along NC 81 which will benefit users of the WNCNatureCenter, RecreationPark and the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.

How does the new infrastructure fit in?

“When we have large projects like the stream bank improvement plan, it makes sense to combine these efforts and go after some needed sidewalks, waterline and roadway improvements while you are in there,” Coates said.  The City is also excited to be partnering with the NCDOT for the installation of a new traffic signal and turn lane at the intersection of NC 81 and Azalea Road.

Sidewalks, a bike path, road improvements and a one-way roadway facility down into the soccer complex will improve access to one of Asheville’s most popular park facilities. Additionally, the soccer complex will get a long-needed water line installed to serve the user of the facility.

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Detail from the plans for Phase I of the Azalea Road/Lake Craig Project

How is it funded?

Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvements project is financed by a mix of state and City of Asheville funds. The total project cost is $3.7 million dollars.  The Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005 allocated funding for these types of projects, and covers $1,143,380 of the total project cost. The remainder is funded through the Sullivans Act funding in the amount of $2,748,002 and the city’s Water Resources Department ($371,127),

What’s next?

Phase I of the project is expected to be completed by December 2014. Leading up to the groundbreaking, project engineers and city staff held three community meetings to take input and inform the public about the impact of the construction and the benefits of the project’s completion. Special attention has been paid to coordinate and minimize the impact of construction during special events for the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex, the WNCNatureCenter and RecreationPark.

“We know this is an extremely popular area,” Coates said. “We don’t want this to interfere with any soccer tournaments or NatureCenter events. Summer is a big time around here.”

Asheville City Council approved Phase I of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road Improvement Project October 22, 2013.

Leave a Comment February 5, 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

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

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