Water, and sidewalks, and golf: oh my!

At tonight’s East Asheville community meeting, members of the public flooded City Council members with their concerns about the fate of the Asheville water system, the need for more sidewalks and ideas for the Municipal Golf Course.

About 50 people attended the Jan. 31 meeting at Haw Creek Elementary School.

These are the highlights.

About the water system
Though it was not on the agenda, the debate surrounding the Asheville water system trickled into the community meeting when a man came to the podium and asked for an update from Council. Recently, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, formed the Metropolitan Sewage/Water System Committee. This committee will judge whether a different agency should manage the City’s water system. Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer reminded the people present that there will be a chance for members of the community to have their voices heard by the committee when it comes to Buncombe.

After listening to the discussion from the public and from members of Council on the matter, Mayor Terry Bellamy asked how people in the audience would be interested in the privatization of the water system. No one raised a hand — a few folks shouted back with a “no.”
Council member Chris Pelly, who still holds his position as president of the Haw Creek Community Association, encouraged people to not only track the issue, but to advocate for the choice they believe will be the best for Asheville as a whole.

Later in the evening, a man came to the podium and demanded that Council be sure to practice what it preaches when he said, “I urge Council to come up with a clear, unified statement that advocates with good reasons for why the city needs to keep control of the system.”

Pelly commented that he was surprised to see people come to a unanimous decision about what should be done with the water system.

About the sidewalks
Sidewalks were on tonight’s agenda and the discussion began with presentations on the matter from Transportation Director Ken Putnam.  During his presentation, Putnam updated the community on completed sidewalk projects, current projects and future projects. These projects are as follows:

Recently completed projects
Tunnel Road, from Asheville Mall to New Haw Creek Road
Tunnel Road, from New Haw Creek Road to Avon Road
Patton Avenue, from New Leicester Highway to Regent Park Boulevard
Short Coxe Avenue, from Biltmore Avenue to Southside Avenue
Future Drive, from Wood Avenue to Ledgewood Village Apartments

Projects under construction
Kenilworth Knolls/Tunnel Road, from Kenilworth Knolls to Chunns Cove Road
Lakeshore Drive, from Merrimon Avenue to Mt. Vernon Circle

Projects in design stage
Tunnel Road, from Governor’s View Road to Maple Springs Road
Tunnel Road, from Maple Springs Road to Craig Circle
Tunnel Road, from Pleasant Ridge Drive to Veteran’s Quarters
Lakeshore Drive, from Osborne Street to Shorewood Drive
Overlook Road, from Springside Road to Long Shoals Road
Patton Avenue, from Regent Park Boulevard to Westgate Shopping Center
Patton Avenue, from New Leicester Highway to Parkwood Road

Potential projects (by location)

Lakeshore Drive, from Mt. Vernon Place to Osborne Road
Lakeshore Drive, from Shorewood Drive to Pine Tree Circle
Long Street, from Asheville Pizza Brewery to East Larchmont Road

Riceville Road, from Tunnel Road northward for 600 feet

Shiloh Road, from Hendersonville Road to the community center
Overlook Road, from Springside Road to Briarcliff Drive

Brevard Road, from Fairfax Avenue to I-240
Michigan Avenue, from Haywood Avenue to Waynesville Avenue
Sand Hill School Road, from Acton Circle to Sand Hill Road

Kim Engel spoke more specifically about the East Asheville Sidewalk Initiative. “It’s just a bunch of regular people,” she said, adding, “We’ve been getting together for years and we really helped get the sidewalks here in East Asheville.” The group’s current focus is on getting better sidewalks for the Tunnel Road corridor, but they are also hoping to get a corridor study going for East Asheville. “We want to create more of a neighborhood feel here in East Asheville. There is still is a lack of connectivity,” she said.

About the roads
Public Works Director Cathy Ball said there is no question about whether Azalea Road floods, but it did not mean she came to the meeting defeated. Ball gave an update on the plans for the Azalea Flood Control and Road Improvement Project. The project elements include:

1. A new entrance to Azalea Road
2. Repave Azalea Road
3. Relocate Swannanoa River
4. Stabilize Azalea Road embankment
5. Water line extension to soccer complex
6. Dam rehabilitation for flood mitigation

About the Municipal Golf Course
Robert Green, owner of Golf USA Asheville, gave an impassioned speech during the time for public comment about the Municipal Golf Course saying, “They’ve got a great staff that are up working in the morning at dawn. You’ll see them out working hard, but numbers are just not adding up. To fix it is simple. It just requires some basic use of mathematics that my daughter here at Haw Creek Elementary can do. I would implore you do the mathematics, and make those simple but hard choices. You can do it and you should do it.”

In addition
The meeting also included a presentation and updates about the Strategic Operating Plan from City Manager Gary Jackson. According to his presentation, Asheville’s tax rate is lower than High Point, Greensboro, Durham, Greenville, Chapel Hill, Winston Salem and Concord, but higher than Raleigh, Wilmington and Cary.

Photo by Bill Rhodes




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