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.