Sometimes the biggest news is what gets left out. That may be the case for the Tuesday, Aug. 24 meeting of Asheville City Council, whose agenda makes no mention of a proposed $9.75 million emergency shelter project that was slated to be voted on during Tuesday’s meeting. A timeline for the shelter project cites the Aug. 24 meeting as the deadline for Council to review and vote on the proposal.
According to an Aug. 20 press release sent three hours after the Council’s agenda was released, the vote on the project will be delayed so that members of Council have more time to review the project and understand community concerns.
“While we had anticipated that City Council would vote to purchase the Ramada Inn at 148 River Ford Parkway during their Aug. 24 meeting, more time is needed and the vote will be postponed. Our decision makers need more time to assess additional details, get through the request for proposal process, build out relationships with potential funders and with the neighborhood,” the release said. “We look forward to deepening our partnership with community members to address their concerns.”
The city is currently under contract to purchase the Ramada Inn in East Asheville for conversion into a low-barrier homeless shelter with a minimum of 110 beds. While Asheville has contracted with the hotel’s owner since April to provide temporary shelter for homeless residents, the proposed permanent operation would provide additional congregate space for crisis referrals from law enforcement, 24/7 access, medical care, mental health resources and more. The proposed shelter is intended to serve people who do not fit the eligibility requirements of the city’s privately owned and operated shelters, such as having proper identification or being sober from drugs or alcohol.
The $9.75 million project — which would be funded through a portion of the $26.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds that the city was approved for in March — includes the purchase, conversion of the property, as well as operating expenses for three years. City staff would provide oversight and support for the shelter but contract with outside groups to manage and run the facility. A request for proposals for a shelter operator was released Aug. 6.
Two community meetings were held on the issue, on Aug. 9 and 12, when some residents of River Ridge and Verde Vista apartment complexes — both less than a quarter-mile from the Ramada Inn — voiced concerns about the proposed shelter’s location.
City Clerk Maggie Burleson told Xpress that the city “did not have a date for the Ramada Inn issue at this time.”
In other news
The city of Asheville is returning to a virtual format for public meetings, including City Council’s. Tuesday’s meeting will be livestreamed via Asheville’s public engagement hub. Commenters wishing to participate live need to sign up in advance at ashevillenc.gov/comments or by calling the City Clerk’s Office at 828-259-5900 no later than 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24. Members of the public can also leave voicemail comments by 9 a.m. on Aug. 24 by calling 855-925-2801 (meeting code 2994), or submit email comments at AshevilleCityCouncilAug242021@publicinput.com
Prior to the regular meeting, Council will hold its second work session aimed at prioritizing a list of ways of spending roughly $26.2 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The meeting is scheduled for 2:30. Members of the public can access the meeting at https://publicinput.com/J1325. Public comment will not be accepted.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 19 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing the city manager to accept a $1.6 million Shuttered Venue Operators Grant from the Small Business Association to offset revenue losses at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville for expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A resolution authorizing the city manager to ratify and amend a contract with Buncombe County — enlarging it from $185,552 to $1.48 million, to pay for paratransit serviConsent P – Paratransit Services .offices provided by Mountain Mobility during fiscal year 2022.
- A resolution authorizing the city manager to execute a $1.1 million contract with Appalachian Sitework Inc for the Sulphur Springs Road Stormwater Improvements Project. Approximately 2,100 feet of a new stormwater system will be installed along Sulphur Springs Road, Covington Road, Clinton Road and Belmont Avenue to improve drainage and reduce flooding in the area.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.