Pounding the ground

The concrete is coming up on the Amboy Road site where a junkyard once sat.

Big crush: Concrete removal is underway at the former EDACO junkyard — site of the future Karen Cragnolin River Park. Photo By Jonathan Welch

The nonprofit RiverLink purchased the EDACO salvage-yard property last year for the bargain-basement price of $900,000. The 5.33-acre site will provide a crucial link in the organization’s greenway plan, connecting Carrier and French Broad River parks and completing a seamless stretch of parks from one end of Amboy Road to the other.

The piles of junked cars were quickly removed, but the lot remained sealed in concrete while required testing and research was conducted. Now, for the next couple of weeks, a gigantic machine will pound the concrete, breaking it away from its 50-year home.

“And then,” exclaims RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin, “We’ll build a park! It’s very exciting.”

Of course, she concedes that things aren’t that easy. Once the concrete is ripped up, it will take another few weeks to ship it to the companies that will recycle it as asphalt or fill for construction projects.

The Southeast-based D.H. Griffin and Co. is demolishing and removing the 120,000 tons of concrete for free and helped acquire necessary permits for the demolition, Cragnolin says.

Once the site is cleared and seeded, phase-two surveys will test for residual effects of the junkyard on the land underneath, a process that will take at least a year. That testing will be funded in part by a brownfield grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new park, named after Cragnolin by the RiverLink board of directors, will be a new chapter for a parcel with a varied pedigree. Before its junkyard days, the land was once part of Asheville’s first airport, did a little time as a duck pond and served as part of the Asheville Speedway, which once operated at the present-day Carrier Park site.

With some time before construction starts, RiverLink is polling the public to find out what uses the park should serve (see the survey at www.riverlink.org). Like the neighboring parks have been, the Karen Cragnolin River Park will be turned over to the city of Asheville once completed.

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