Council faces cost of Vance Monument removal March 23

Asheville city seal

The numbers that community members have been waiting for are here: Removing Asheville’s Vance Monument will cost between $114,150 and $495,000, according to five bids submitted by North Carolina-based construction and demolition companies. 

The joint city-county Vance Monument Task Force recommended the removal of the downtown obelisk, which memorializes Confederate Gov. Zebulon Vance, in November. Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners both voted to accept the task force’s recommendation in early December, but the elected officials opted to wait until the costs and logistics for removal were known before making any final decisions. 

With cost estimates now in hand, Council members are expected to discuss what comes next for the monument at their meeting of Tuesday, March 23. According to a staff report available before the meeting, the lowest bid for removal came from Asheville contractor Chonzie at $114,500. If any of the five bids are authorized, the obelisk’s demolition would take place within 45 days; funding would come from the city’s capital improvement budget. 

Council members will also decide if they’ll request a consultant’s help to develop a “comprehensive Community Vision Document” outlining plans to repurpose the former monument site. This document is projected to cost up to $70,000 and will be paid for through the city’s general fund. 

To offset the costs of both removal and the repurposing plans, the city would seek financial assistance from other local government agencies and private grant providers. No such partners were explicitly named in the staff report.

A separate $25,535 contract for temporary site restoration will go to MS Lean Landscaping, an Asheville-based, Black-owned business. The company submitted the lowest responsible bid during the city’s request for proposal process.

In other news

One way or another, the ongoing debate over appointments to the Asheville City Board of Education will soon come to an end. Council will hold interviews for seven applicants the morning of their regular meeting and select three people to fill the board vacancies later that evening. 

The seven candidates selected for interviews are incumbents Joyce Brown, James Carter and Patricia Griffin; longtime teacher and urban education graduate student Michele Delange; UNC Asheville Dean of Students Jacquelyn Carr McHargue; Buncombe County Recreation Services Director Peyton O’Conner; and Homeward Bound Finance Director George Sieburg

Meanwhile, the Asheville City Association of Educators has its own shortlist. The group of teachers, administrators and school staff has endorsed McHargue, Libby Kyles and Pepi Acebo for the open seats.

Also on the packed agenda is a public hearing to amend the city’s annual action plan for federal Community Development Block Grants and HOME Investment Partnerships. The main change would authorize the use of $1.6 million from the December property sale of city-owned land acquired through urban renewal to yeast manufacturer and brewpub White Labs to purchase 21 acres next to Deaverview Apartments for $1.5 million. 

With the newly acquired land, the city and Housing Authority of the City of Asheville hope to create a 60-acre community, complete with an affordable child care center, a high-performing school and a community center with on-site health services, a plan outlined at a Jan. 26 affordable housing work session. The project will incorporate at least 300 housing units, including new housing for 156 residents currently living at Deaverview. 

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains 12 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following resolutions: 

  • A $2,242,809 construction contract with Canton-based Hyatt Pipeline to install roughly 11,800 feet of waterline along nine city roads. The project, funding for which has already been budgeted in the city’s Water Resources Capital Improvement Fund, will help provide better water pressure for both domestic service and fire fighting. 
  • A proposal to add two members to the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, bringing total committee membership up to 13. One new member would represent the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville; the other would have “general housing experience.” 
  • A multiyear contract with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP to review and assist the city with bond issuance and debt management. Funding for the contract, not to exceed $500,000, is included in the city’s Capital Improvement Program/Debt program. 

Prior to their regular meeting, Council members will attend a 2:30 p.m. work session to discuss the city’s fiscal year 2021-22 operating budget. The meeting will be livestreamed at this link; no public comment will be accepted.

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found at this link. Due to COVID-19, Council will meet remotely, and the meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s Public Engagement Hub.

Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance at this link or call 828-259-5900 no later than 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23. City staff will then use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 7982; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilMar232021@PublicInput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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13 thoughts on “Council faces cost of Vance Monument removal March 23

  1. unhappy

    I know we can find someone to do it for free. Those estimates are a joke and reflect the insane amount of money wasted when city bids are involved. $500,000 to knock it down sounds like corruption as usual. I am a democrat, but this insane lack of fiscal responsibility has to stop. And if they are lining up the insane cost as an excuse to leave it up, shame on them. Stop it, now. If you can’t make this small gesture to help everyone in the community to move forward, we are all screwed. Why is this so hard to do, and if we can’t even knock it down how are we all going to move forward? Shame on you Esther, your legacy is set in stone.

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  2. JustJoe

    It’s hard to understand why the City of Asheville can’t quite seem to focus on just providing core services first and then prioritize everything else according to what citizens want and need. The streets are full of pot holes and littered with trash, sidewalks are needed everywhere (either no sidewalks or crumbling sidewalks), fire fighters are paid a paltry salary, a third of the police force is gone and new officers will be difficult to hire, violent crime is on the rise, the city manager and dept heads make exorbitant salaries, water leaks are everywhere, there are houseless people and camps literally all over the city, on and on and on, while property taxes continue to increase. Before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to tear stuff down, could we just focus a minute on a city that is literally falling apart ? The waste of taxpayer money and lack of direction and management is astounding.

    • James

      We are capable of doing multiple things at the same time. I actually probably pay WAY more in property taxes than you do I am glad the city is prioritizing doing away with participation trophies for terrorists and traitors. Think of it like Giuliani’s broken windows approach to revitalizing NYC. Once that kind of trash is gone we will feel prouder of our city and dig in more to do more.

      • Cane Creek

        “Think of it like Giuliani’s broken windows approach to revitalizing NYC.” Get the hell out of here. lol

      • G Man

        This is the epitome of government corruption at work right here.

        “I paid more in taxes, therefore what I want matters more.”

        Y’all see how simple that is?

      • ashevillain7

        The COA might be capable of doing multiple things at the same time, but they are not actually doing that.

        The amount you pay in property taxes is irrelevant.

      • Xiden lost, we all know it.

        Actually, probably? You must have gone to a liberal university. You should focus on logic if you want to debate grown ups.

    • Mike R.

      I agree with what you have stated. The City of Asheville tries to do everything and as result does nothing very well.
      Even the Asheville City Schools, they can’t manage; and technically they are under the leadership of City Council since that body nominates the School Board members (for now). Asheville should divest the school system to Buncombe County (new name: Buncombe Asheville School System). This will free up time and energy for Asheville leadership and reduce taxes to Asheville property owners by 700/year.
      Core services: Police, Fire, Sanitation, Water System, Public Works, should be funded at a level (including salaries) that retains quality people and high level of service (not happening now).
      Nice to have services (Parks and Rec) needs to take back seat on funding (currently same level as Public Works….go figure).
      “Solving world hunger” (and similar feel good activities) goes to the very end of the list if money still left over.

  3. Stan Hawkins

    I am awfully glad that we have ole Vance to kick around some more in Asheville / Buncombe. I think we should hire more expert studies though to analyze our previous studies to confirm the measure of our commitment to the original issue studied. Vance is a very nice distraction perhaps from some more critical issues that previously concerned this publication and its’ contributors just a few short years ago. But, being previously concerned is not a new phenomenon – yet the hand ringing was significant.

    Hence anyone hear “crickets” in this publication on the issue of 15,000 new children crossing our southern border since our new administration came to power. These children are now in US custody in some fashion or another. According to our mother ship, Washington Post and purveyor of all things important, this 15,000 is double any previous number at least over the last 20 years.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/no-end-in-sight-inside-the-biden-administration-s-failure-to-contain-the-border-surge/ar-BB1eNeEh

    I believe ole Zeb would be scratching his head on this issue with his old friend Pack, possibly even setting new priorities. Yet, as we know “the government is only here to help.” We might want to keep that ole Vance thing around a little longer – it is a useful tool for distracting us citizens, and would cost less.

    • Xiden lost, we all know it.

      You must be a “racist, white supremacist” to challenge the woke culture now dominant due to the fraudulent “election”, off to the camp to you!

  4. Enlightened Enigma

    Until they change the name of Asheville, all the rest is total bullshit. How dare these WAPS do this to the city.
    Do their children realize just how evil their mommas are ???

  5. JustJoe

    And let’s not forget the decade+ ongoing saga of The Pit of Despair. How much has that already cost for basically nothing?

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