I’m voting yes for all three bond proposals in the upcoming election.The proposed bond spending includes improvements to transportation networks (including roads, bike paths and greenways), recreation infrastructure and affordable housing projects within city limits. For some people, this referendum seems to have come out of nowhere. However, these proposed projects aren’t new. For years, they’ve been discussed and vetted by the community and planning professionals.
The city of Asheville has gone to great lengths to gather community input in its planning processes. On the Vote Yes campaign website are references to the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Asheville in Motion mobility plan, Transit Master Plan, 2013 Greenway Master Plan Updates, and 2015 Housing Needs Assessment and Market Study, among others.
Each plan mentions community, neighborhood and key stakeholder meetings, as well as surveys and focus groups where residents voiced opinions. These projects have broad public support. It’s clear that residents want a better quality of life and feel these improvements are all community priorities.
The $74 million in bonds means that these projects would be completed within the next five to seven years, a timeline well ahead of how much time it would take individual projects without a new source of funding. The costs would be covered with an estimated 4.15-cent increase in annual property taxes. That is, an additional $110 a year, or $9 per month, for a home valued at $275,000. As an owner of residential and commercial real estate, I’d be willing to take on my share of these small increases because of the positive impact these projects would have on our community.
So the question is not whether or not residents want these projects. Rather, it’s if they’re willing to put money and votes behind accelerating these vital community improvements!
— Justin Belleme