Monday, December 12, 2011

NC DOT doing some Clearing

Just got word this morning from Marsha Stickford, that the NC DOT will begin their underbrush removal around the pedestrian bridge across to Hillcrest, today!  The plan as it has been presented, is to remove small diameter scrub vegetation, leaving the tagged hardwoods in tact to become shade trees for the area.  The downed wood left is there for the taking by neighbors.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WECAN December 2011 Board Meeting Minutes • Draft

WECAN Board on Thursday December 1, 2011 at Merritt Park Meeting Room
Members present: Byron Ballard, Jessie Coleman, Joe Fioccola,  AnnaBeth Hardcastle, Yuri Koslen, Luke W. Perry and Pattiy Torno. Members not present were: Jeff Carnivale, Bret Frk, Tom Gibson, Mike Kenton, Geraldine Melendez,  Jose Ruiz, Joanne Skinner and Suzanne Willis.
Also present were Marsha Stickford,  Officer Evan Coward, Detective Ken Clamser, Kathleen Kingston and Greg Shuler, City of Asheville Streets and Engineering Manager.

Pattiy called the meeting to order at 6:25.
Crime Issues: Community Resource Officer Evan Coward reported on a homeless camp across from 226 Lyman St. and will check some bedding visible on the west facing bank of the river just south of the Smith Bridge (below Craven St.) He reported that this morning he had arrested a subject who has several outstanding warrants and may have been responsible for several burglaries in WECAN.  The ‘drop-dead’ date for securing the Ice House on Riverside was extended and would continue to be since condemnation of the property and removal would cost over $200,000 which has not been budgeted.
           After introductions discussion of the progress of the Clingman Avenue Streetscape began. Greg said they may finish by next week and probably before Christmas. Some concrete work was scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. Some shared driveways between 132 and 134, and 136 and 138 still have issues but they will be remedied by the City Street Department after the contract work is completed. He said the city won’t walk away but would make things right. If further problems develop contact Greg Shuler by email or call his office at (828) 271-6146. The project is not on schedule nor on budget. It was adversely affected by the bicycle lane being added in after the contract was bid and also the relocation of the utility poles. Because of the State participation engineering and financial auditing occurred together. It was a learning experience and will be a positive influence on future projects. Traffic cones have been placed on all the bump-outs to make them more visible and a few parking spaces were removed on Rector St.  It will be considered at a later date whether to make Rector Street one way only. Jessie said she was not comfortable as a driver on Clingman feeling the road is too narrow and oncoming traffic was too close. She also has problems with the crosswalk at Clingman and Hilliard of almost getting run down as a pedestrian.  Ped Head crossing lights are funded as a part of this project but will be going up after it is completed. Pattiy requested an input meeting when the Ped Head project phase begins so that the city can talk us through what is coming and hopefully about a month in advance. Marsha will follow up and get the plan drawings to Pattiy. Kathleen requested another look at the speed limit after the project is completed.  Ken Putnam will  be doing traffic studies then. At the WECAN Sunny Cultural garden, which was damaged during construction, the granite curbstones have been replaced a little higher than before and brick sidewalk has been put in there. Pattiy remembered a planning session when people were asking for brick sidewalk to return and said it was a nice touch. It was generally agreed to let the garden come back in the spring and see what didn’t make it. We will revisit and evaluate at the June 7, 2012 WECAN Board meeting. When it is finished it should be something we can all be proud of and in future projects the city has learned that when people are upset it isn’t because they are mean but because they care and are hurt.
Prostitution: Vice Detective Kenny Clamser has been working vice narcotics in the central area for over ten years. Over that time there has been a reduction of prostitution calls from 7-800 calls down to 150-200 in the last year. There was also a reduction in street crimes: drug sales, vandalism, break-ins over to the S French Broad and Aston Park areas. This reduction has been due to surveillance, arrests and then providing counseling and other help needed for mental and drug problems while they are in jail. He encouraged anyone who sees a new girl show up on the street or people parking in the usual areas to send him an email at  AnnaBeth asked what the best thing to do when she sees something without being a nuisance to dispatchers at the police department. Det Clamser said if possible get plate numbers and vehicle descriptions and email or call his office at 271-6128. They may not immediately appear but can build a case and follow through. 
Garden Club: A date was set for Kudzu removal at the end of Jefferson Drive for Saturday December 17th at 9 a.m. The gatherings will be either placed on Yuri’s mulch pile or else will call Marsha to arrange pickup. Adopt A Highway was set for Wednesday December 14th at 9 a.m.  Luke reported a pile of vines and wire dumped on Club St.
Neighborhood Communication Sub-Committee met and Luke and Yuri presented  a draft recruitment flyer, ‘Networking Communication Needs Assessment -- Re-connecting the neighborhood.’ It introduces WECAN  and lists several ways to get involved around being a “block captain.” Joe questioned to term ‘Captain’ as being too hierarchical and militaristic. He suggested something more accessible such as ‘elder’ or ‘coordinator.’ Then a lively discussion of other terms ensued: Block Hero; Block Facilitator; Block Advisor; Block Uncle/Aunt; Block Jessie; Street Steward; Block Helper; Block Auxiliary; Block Bell; were all offered up.[Later Joe thought of ‘Block Keeper.’ No doubt more will be forthcoming.]
Social: Luke reported a good turnout at the neighborhood social on Thursday November 17th from 5-7 p.m at the White Duck Taco Shop. The next one will probably be at Clingman Café in the next couple of weeks.
East of the Riverway: Luke gave an update. The objective is community development through transportation, housing, economic development, etc. and they are seeking feedback on what a neighborhood needs for sustainability. May use kiosks in neighborhoods and bus stops. He proposed a gathering on Wednesday December 7, 2011 at 6:30 his house  #11 Club St  to discuss communication capacity in the WECAN neighborhood. He will provide victuals and requests an RSVP so he can know how much to provide or else just bring something to eat and show up. The conversation will give feedback to the Asheville Design Center for sustainability ideas and issues related to WECAN. Byron posed the question about overlapping missions between the Asheville Design Center and the Transition Asheville groups. Although they cover overlapping geographic areas TA seems to be more social development oriented.
DOT Right of way along I-240 Luke reported that he had a letter from Ken Putnam and Marsha outlining the plans for the DOT right-of-way along I-240. Marsha reported  a good conversation incorporating CEPTED ideas of visibility and lighting . The plan is 1) to survey the area in December. 2) Mark which trees should be saved and which should be replaced. 3) Repair and mend the chain link fence. 4)Tree removal will begin in January (and the wood from the cut trees will be left for neighbors to use.) Undetermined: when trash will be removed or by whom.
The November General Membership meeting minutes were approved by acclamation.
Pattiy reported on new Railroad Crossing Gates going in at the Lyman Street crossing with new sidewalk on one side and additional parking on Depot Street. She will forward info from the drawings.
Ideas for 2012: Parade and mayoral ribbon-cutting when Clingman Avenue is completed. Maybe drumming, and music. (No date set.) January: Select WECAN Officers for 2012 and At-Large Board members. Trash Removal on Club Street. Welcoming a herd of goats. Adopting a stream/storm water outlet or viaduct near 12Bones. Relocation of groundhogs and marmots. Urban legend of a huge wild groundhog that would not let people pass on the trail from Park to Jefferson…to be continued
Meeting adjourned at 8:15
Minutes submitted by Joe Fioccola.