Asheville, home to more than 8,465 hotel rooms and counting, is providing a pathway for hotel operators to rack up some major brownie points by incorporating sustainable features and practices in plans for new hotel construction.
As the sometimes contentious discussions unfolded, members grappled with ambitious priorities for the upcoming year, and, perhaps more importantly, what their working relationships would look like for the next 18 months.
“[The funding is] intended to be a pandemic response; it’s not actually intended to end homelessness. It just is, happily, an opportunity for us to end homelessness, because that is also a response to the coronavirus,” says Emily Ball, homeless services lead for the city of Asheville.
The latest executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper raises the indoor mass gathering limit from 25 to 50 people and the outdoor mass gathering limit from 50 to 100. All North Carolina adults will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday, April 7.
“AVL must put an end to abuse of Asheville’s growing and always changing homeless population by the Asheville Police Department, Department of Transportation and City Hall.”
Asheville has contracted with consultants Shemekka Ebony and Christine Edwards to host six “equity-focused budget engagement” sessions for community members. The pair previously facilitated the city’s “Reimagining Public Safety” engagement efforts in the fall.
The new outdoor classroom and garden area, the result of a three-year, $2 million project, features three distinct ponds, a boardwalk, a 20-person teaching shelter and interpretive signage, complete with a frog kiosk that plays different amphibian vocalizations.
The yearlong campaign begins April 1 and seeks to outfit at least 100 residents and businesses with solar energy systems by the end of 2021.
The foundation approved roughly $47 million in grants throughout the year, including over $3 million for personal protective equipment, $5 million to address substance use disorder, $3.7 million for racial equity and $3 million toward affordable housing.
On Nov. 18, nonprofit Conserving Carolina announced that it had entered a contract to buy an unused 19-mile rail corridor between Brevard and Hendersonville for conversion into a greenway. Backers hope the Ecusta Trail will become a regional draw for running and biking enthusiasts.
Mayor Esther Manheimer emailed Xpress the evening of Dec. 7 to say that Council was moving the Vance item from reports to new business, allowing for both public comment and a vote. She did not immediately respond to a request for clarification regarding the rationale behind that change.
The three-year construction project brings the North Fork Dam up to North Carolina state standards for safety and adds climate resilience to Asheville’s largest water source. The work marks the largest renovation of the dam and its accompanying North Fork Reservoir since the facility’s opening in 1955.
Community members generally applauded the decision as a step in the right direction. But the newly approved resolution exempts property under contract to be sold to White Labs, a move commenters found disheartening.
“Shouldn’t the name of Asheville’s civic center, Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, be among those that must be changed, since the Cherokees were also slaveowners?”
Kimberlee Archie, the city’s first equity and inclusion manager, and Libby Kyles, CEO of the YWCA of Asheville, have left high-profile jobs with a mission of improving racial equity in the city within a month of each other.
Asheville City Council members voted 5-2 to adopt a budget amendment that will cut APD funding by $770,000, a roughly 2.5% drop from the $30.1 million allocation originally proposed by City Manager Debra Campbell in May.
City staff hosted listening sessions to learn how residents envision the delivery of public safety services. But Asheville City Council must vote on budget allocations for the remainder of the fiscal year on Tuesday, Sept. 22, leaving little time to synthesize and consider participants’ input
The looming eviction crisis has threatened renters for months, teasing tenants with temporary relief measures that end just when cash-strapped residents need them the most. In North Carolina, up to 42% of households are at risk of eviction.
At a time when COVID-19 makes meeting up for in-person sports less safe, says Asheville Parks and Recreation staffer Maxime Pierre, virtual activities provide an outlet for competition and help to keep the department relevant. But he says video games also allow the city to engage with a larger group of residents than had been served through traditional sports.
“Reasonable appropriations should go toward weed management.”
Together, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County approved over $11 million in funding to install roughly 7 megawatts of solar power at public facilities and area schools. The projects are anticipated to save the governments and local schools roughly $650,000 in electricity costs in the first year and more than $27 million over the installations’ 30-year operational life.