Yuri called the meeting to order at 6:33 pm. Go around introductions/ review agenda. Minutes approved as distributed.
APD CRO update:
Officer Coward reported that the Hillcrest Walkover bridge has been opened since early December with no major problems. A Public Meeting has been set for this Saturday January 8 from 1-3 p.m. at the Hillcrest Community Center to share information, update the community on the status of plans so far and get input from residents before they are finalized. One focus is on making it safe and accessible and identifying opportunities to work on other things. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) will conduct a community walk to the bridge and adjacent areas to elicit safety concerns along the way. John volunteered to attend, take notes and report back next month. Susan announced that there are grants available for beautification projects and she wants to plant trees there.
Evan also wants to reactivate the Neighborhood Watch Program. This is a neighborhood organizing system where each 'block' or designated area has a 'captain' to collect information from neighbors and report to the Community Resource Officer. Everyone is enlisted to be the 'eyes' on the neighborhood with knowledge of who their neighbors are and when they see suspicious activity. Two signs will be placed identifying this as a Neighborhood Watch Area. Non-emergencies can be reported to the police department at any time using the (828) 252-1110 number. Neighbors can report suspicious activity at the "Hillcrest Walkover" for anything on the south side of the interstate or the steps down to Roberts St. These are flagged for reporting purposes at the police department. Yuri suggested that NW can also be used to communicate positive information and activities. Organizing Neighborhood Watch will be an agenda item in February.
Fence on Riverside Drive (behind 12Bones): The chain link fence can be removed if the community takes some ownership responsibility of the area and monitors and reports violators. A trail near the water was suggested as a good community use. The main issues for public safety are homeless camps, illegal dumping and damage from off-road vehicles. A talk with Riverlink was suggested to coordinate a presence in the area. The issue of fence removalwill be an agenda item in February.
Evan also reported that there has been some progress moving forward with the owners of the Ice Storage Building. There will be more meetings about securing the building.
Board member Whit Rylee has moved from the neighborhood. To fill this vacancy (until the next general membership meeting) Luke Perry was nominated by Pattiy and approved by acclamation.
Nominations were made for a slate of officers: For Chair: Pattiy Torno was nominated by Mike. For Vice Chair: Yuri Koslen was nominated by Pattiy. For Recorder: Joe Fioccola was nominated by Byron and for Treasurer: Bret Frk was nominated by Jeff. The slate was seconded by Jessie and approved by acclamation.
Bike Skills Park presentation:
Shaun Moore presented the proposed area and justification for a bike skills park for the area under the Smokey Park Bridges and around Hillcrest. He is a member of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) The overview : it is a small area but a lot of features can be packed into it. It will be structurally and environmentally sustainable, fun and allows for extreme range of skill levels from beginner to professional. It has been found that when connected to a community such parks are more often used. One problem is that all the land is owned by the Department of Transportation. As a precedent he noted that in Seattle in the last 8 years such a park was built at the I-5 colonnade and has reduced crime in that area. One idea is that in our high crime area 'good' activities will displace them. A caution to anyone viewing the area: D.O.T has prominently placed 'No Trespassing" signs. Strategies: precedents :Food Lion Skate Park, Lexington Murals, Encroachment agreement? D.O.T may still need access under the bridge for inspections and maintenance. Unknown impact of Future I-26 connector. SORBA has active volunteers on Saturdays and Thursdays who haul dirt, plant trees and clear brush. A Bike Skills Park Committee was formed to a) Delineate a process,(what needs to happen, who will take the lead), b) Identify impact: pros and cons c) Identify groups to contact (Hillcrest, D.O.T., City Council, etc.) Bret suggested a SWOT analysis: (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.) John, Mike, Luke and Bret volunteered to meet and report back in February. Pattiy announced a meeting of the Asheville Area Redevelopment Commission would be meeting on March 24 with representatives of the major regulatory agencies. (US D.O.T., NC-D.O.T, FEMA, Water Quality, etc) and property owners between the bridges. The 'Bridge to Bridge" small area plan covers from the Smokey Park Bridges to the Riverlink Bridge. This will be a time to bring all plans together and bring in the community for input to create a sense of place.
Asheville Greenworks: Susan advised GreenWorks has permission from D.O.T. to build rock cairns near the Fairway Billboard right of way. The bench had to be removed. They have hired people to maintain their plantings there and make inroads into the kudzu fields. She encouraged everyone to take a walk across from Asheville Transit towards I240 to look west at the beautiful sunsets and back near the Boy Scouts Building. She would love to see houses put back there.
Aston Park Report: Susan also reported that she had a donor who contributed money to plant trees at Aston Park. City planner (and SFB resident) Alan Glines has created a plan to present to Parks and Rec. She will present that to the Aston Gateway Community Board which meets the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at Aston Park. Next meeting Thursday January 20 at 5:30 p.m. Tree planting may be a community building project the AGCB has been looking for. Jeff showed a draft letter requesting the removal of the Confederate Memorial Marker in Aston Park. Jeff also reported that the AGCB has been working on a Vision and Values Statement: Draft as follows so far:
We value being inclusive and believe that all people are created equal.
We value our neighbors and believe that together we are a community.
We value healthy living and believe that active people are happier people.
We value relationships and believe the more we know each other and socialize the stronger we will be as a community.
Aston Park Gateway Community utilizes the park to promote an inclusive, healthy and active community.
Develop Programming: Classes, events and festivals
Expand equipment: Community check out system, purchase new equipment, senior area
Ensure the park's physical space is smartly utilized: Planning with the city, all of the park is used by community members
Obtain Resources: Financial resources for sustainability
Continuously engage the community:"Pass the torch", multi-generational collaborate and partner with the City of Asheville,
YWCA, AMS, various Churches, and other neighborhood groups
Jeff also announced that the YWCA's Stand Against Racism Event was set for Aston Park on April 29 and other groups are encouraged to have their own events.
AGCB has a UNCA intern Minorrie working on the photo voice portion to complete the grant reporting.
Marsha announced that the Asheville Housing Authority was applying for a $5 million grant to renovate the historic Reid Center Building.as a job training center thanks to David Nash assistant director of AHA.
Review of WECAN By-laws will be an agenda item in February.
Pattiy announced a Public Meeting of the Wilma Dykeman Riverway River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project; (WDR-RADTIP)
at AB Tech Ferguson Auditorium on Saturday January 22 from 9-12. The DOT has granted $600,000 to conduct an environmental assessment and produce preliminary drawings for the 2.2 mile area between Hill Street at Riverside Drive down to Meadow Road at Amboy Road. The 'East of River' grant was to research, measure and produce working drawings for the transportation corridor.
Bret announced he has access to big brush cutters for clearing kudzu and brush.
Garden Club activities for Adopt-a Highway, Owens Bell Park and potential community garden clearing will be an agenda item in February.
Jessie announced that Selena Sullivan was no longer the manager of the Asheland Avenue Hot Spot and she has noticed increased problems there such as people drinking beer on the premises.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m..
Minutes submitted by Joe Fioccola