City Council shows further support for Asheville whitewater park

Wilson Sims, whitewater park advocate, presents information to the council. The proposed park is an in-stream model on the French Broad River.

The proposed Asheville whitewater park hasn’t hit any rapids yet, as City Council showed general support for moving forward with further evaluations of the project at the March 24 meeting.

A hard date wasn’t nailed down, but Council members said the next phase is an evaluation of how project fits into the River Arts District redevelopment plan, which is likely to be completed this summer. The evaluation would touch on things like how the park, recommended to be located near the Bowen Bridges, would deal with physical infrastructure, operations, traffic and community acceptance.

“There are 20 other projects integrated into the park, which are things we have to consider — things like parking and bicycle trails leading there,” said City Manager Gary Jackson.

The park, which is an in-stream design, could begin construction as early as 2019 if funding is found. The city stopped short of agreeing to a public-private partnership at the meeting.

There are 20 in-stream whitewater parks in the U.S., the closest one located in Bryson City. A feasibility study completed by Colorado-based Scott Shipley’s firm, S20 Design and Engineering, showed the French Broad’s flow rate is favorable for this design.

Park advocate Wilson Sims delivered the informational presentation to the Council, noting the benefits: recreation, environmental awareness, riverfront redevelopment, connecting the community to the river and economic and small business development.

“Shipley estimates that for every one person paddling, there will be seven watching or recreating on the riverbank,” said Sims.

About a dozen members of the audience showed their support by wearing whitewater paddling life jackets during the meeting.

“It will take boldness and will on the part of this Council to make it happen,” said Vice Mayor Marc Hunt, who has been involved in the planning. “There is so much potential here, it’s worth it to take the next steps.”

The next formal meeting of the Asheville City Council will be held on Tuesday, April 14, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Council Chamber, located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall. The city of Asheville will also be holding a community engagement event regarding short term rentals TONIGHT, March 25,  at 5 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center Banquet Hall.


The action agenda is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the council meeting and any decisions that were made. It does not provide action on ceremonial or non-substantive matters.

THIS ACTION AGENDA IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. Authority to carry out actions related to any council decision should be obtained through normal departmental procedure.

Please call the City Clerk’s office at 259-5601 if you have any questions.

Present: Mayor Esther E. Manheimer, Presiding; Vice-Mayor Marc H. Hunt; Councilman Cecil Bothwell; Councilman Jan B. Davis ; Councilman Christopher A. Pelly; Councilman Gordon D. Smith; Councilwoman Gwen C. Wisler; City Manager Gary Jackson; City Attorney Robin T. Currin; and City Clerk Magdalen Burleson

Absent: None


Motion to request the Buncombe County Board of Elections to arrange four additional early voting sites (one each in the North, South, East and West sections of Asheville, preferably at a library or community center) the one week (including Saturday) immediately preceding the 2015 City Council general election. — Adopted Unanimously

Resolution accepting Ayr Court and an extension of Quail Hollow Drive as City-maintained
streets. — Adopted Unanimously

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into an agreement with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation agreement to provide a Section 5307 Capital Grant to be used for the State match to purchase a Compressed Natural Gas replacement bus for Henderson County’s transit system. — Adopted Unanimously

Resolution adopting the 2015-16 City Council Strategic Operating Plan. — Adopted Unanimously
As Amended

Resolution of intent to permanently close a portion of Bradley Street and setting a public hearing on April 28, 2015. — Adopted Unanimously

Budget amendment, in the amount of $32,750, to move available budget from the City’s General Capital Projects Fund to the General Fund to partially fund the contract with Hyland Software and other suppliers for the Integrated Document Management Software Replacement Project. — Adopted Unanimously

Budget amendment, in the amount of $45,018 from unassigned fund balance for legal fees associated with Civil Service Board grievance hearings. — Adopted Unanimously

Mayor’s Development Task Force Report — Heard Report

French Broad Whitewater Park in the River Arts District — Heard Proponents

Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets — Heard Report

Asheville Police Department Organizational Assessment, Matrix Consulting — Heard Report

Legislative Update — Heard Report

Public hearing to consider conditional zoning on property located at 1 Sunset Parkway from RS-4 Residential Single-Family Medium Density District to RM-6/CZ Residential Multi-Family Low Density District/Conditional Zoning to allow the renovation of an existing church to two single-family residences. — Adopted Unanimously

Public hearing to consider conditional zoning on property at 39 Elm Street from Community Business II District to Community Business II District/Conditional Zoning, with conditions to building size, impervious area and setback, for the construction of a 5-story hotel with parking. — Continued to Aug. 25

Public hearing to consider amending Chapter 7 of the Code of Ordinance to increase the Motion to Approve allowances for real estate and construction signage.— Failed 2-5 vote, with Davis and Wisler voting “yes”

Public hearing to consider a conditional zoning located off Shelburne Drive from RM-8 Residential Multi-Family Medium Density District and RS-8 Residential Single-Family High Density District to RS-8 Residential Single-Family High Density District/Conditional Zoning for a 9-lot major subdivision. —  This item does not need City Council consideration as all City requirements can now be met. Withdrawn

Resolution appointing members to the Asheville City Board of Education. — Appointed Martha Geitner and Shaunda Sandford


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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at Follow me @pbarcas

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2 thoughts on “City Council shows further support for Asheville whitewater park

  1. drdr13420

    and someone will open a clinic right next to it to deal with all the infection/etc. from paddling in a river full of sewage and toxins…not to mention it’s like building a mountain downtown for mountain biking…

  2. ashevillain7

    This is such a dumb thing to spend time and money on. Can’t we just let a river be a river?

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