WECAN BOARD MEETING. Thursday, July 5, 2012 at Merritt Park Meeting Room
Members present: Mike Kenton, Joann Skinner, Luke W Perry, Annabeth Hardcastle. Members not present were: Jessie Coleman, Bret Frk, Pattiy Torno, Jessie Coleman, Byron Ballard, Joe Fioccola, Jeff Carnivale, Tom Gibson and Suzanne Willis. Also present were Patrick Willis, APD Officer Evan Coward, and City of Asheville Employees Jeff Moore, Barb Mee, and Marsha Stickford.
Luke called the meeting to order at 6:35 pm. Introductions were made. Luke mentioned that fellow board member Brett Frk had a baby boy about two weeks ago. Luke also mentioned that Jimmy Smith, who lives on Club Street had a bad fall last week, and probably won’t make it through the weekend. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. Accommodations are being made for all of the cats he took care of. Evan said he would check to see about some live traps to help transfer the cats to a no-kill animal shelter.
APD CRO UPDATE. RiverMusic happened this past Friday without any major incidents. Evan said that people need to know that dogs are not allowed. Marsha mentioned that the city would like feedback if there are any issues from the neighborhood. Joann asked about Gene Hampton’s house and people stealing chairs and tables from his porch. Evan said that they weren’t able to find anything. Mike reported a homeless camp across form the bus garage and said he did a ride along with Evan and encourages other people to do so.
TREASURER’S REPORT. Annabeth has now gained access to our funds. We have approximately $151 in our account, before the $100 from the Clingman Circle Celebration. Luella (past treasurer) is still a signer on the checks in addition to Annabeth. Annabeth suggested getting Joe’s name on there as well.
ROBERTS STREET UPDATE. Jeff Moore, Traffic Engineer from the City of Asheville reported the results of the traffic count they did on Roberts St. between July 19-22. Some of the results are:
· Approximately 1,600 vehicles per day
· Average speed is 26.9 mph (25 mph zone)
· Highest speeds were 47-49 mph
Jeff said there will be another count soon to verify the data. Annabeth requested the next count take place on a weekend. Jeff described some next steps that could be used to help slow some of the traffic such as yellow reflectors in the middle of the road. They generally agreed that speed bumps would not work because of the hill on Roberts St. (dangerous). Jeff said he will look at other strategies to help with traffic calming. Patrick asked if there was anyway to forecast or look at the trends in traffic to see what it might be look in a few years. Jeff responded that they typically plan for a 3% increase, but that has not happened recently. Jeff also acknowledged that growth is happening faster in River Arts District, than other places.
Barb Mee, Pedestrian and Bicycle Planner with the City of Asheville, described the process by which sidewalks become a priority. There are a number of factors, including Zoning jurisdiction, proximity to community destinations, etc. This data is plugged into GIS and helps rank priorities based on the 2005 pedestrian plan. With the new traffic count numbers and other data, Roberts St is not ranked as a priority. It was noted that Roberts St. is a needed linkage, and any new projects will have to install sidewalks on their property. Marsha noted that with the uncertainty of a lot of the properties, it would be hard to commit to anything at this point.
Luke raised the concern of how people have to walk in Roberts St, and even though our traffic count isn’t that high, that it only takes on car going 50 mph to have an accident. Annabeth also reinforced how different our neighborhood is now than 3, 4, and 5 years ago, and all the energy and work going on by the river is going to need infrastructure improvements, and in order for the neighbors to feel safe, some changes are going to have to be made. Marsha acknowledged the rapid pace of change in that area and for WECAN to look at building some partnerships with other local stakeholders to keep the issue present on the city’s radar screen and to make sure that the City is clear on what our needs are.
CITY OF ASHEVILLE + NC DOT. Marsha reported that the City has been in conversation with the DOT about more flexible usage of DOT land in our neighborhood, including areas under the bridges, around the Hillcrest pedestrian bridge, and around Clingman Ave. They are looking at setting up easements for the city to manage access and maintenance of such spaces. The general sense is that DOT is open to some new arrangements. Mike asked Jeff about the potential of revisiting the idea of the Bike Park underneath the I-240 bridge. Jeff acknowledged that originally DOT had said that the area with access road was off-limits, but that more recently they had said that they would be open to it if the city took responsibility for that area. Jeff and Marsha acknowledged limited resources and problems with liability, etc. They suggested we follow up with Stephanie Monson in Planning department, to look more holistically at the different planning efforts, and how WECAN can communicate what its hopes and goals in the midst of all the projects, ideas, and developments. Barb mentioned that there will be an East of the Riverway transportation planning process that will be picking up steam soon and that we should get involved and stay involved in it. She also said that publicly thanking DOT for the work they are doing in our neighborhood goes a long way, and that the Clingman Circle Celebration was a great way of doing that.
CLINGMAN IMPROVEMENTS. Joann mentioned that there are still two street lights out on Clingman Ave. Evan said he would follow up on the light situation. She also requested again to get more visibility for the bump outs. Solutions include night reflectors and stripping around the bump outs. Jeff said he would follow up on the bump outs and that the City should be able to take of it, instead of DOT.
CLINGMAN/HILLIARD PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL. Barb Mee gave an update on the pedestrian signal that is supposed to be installed. She was hoping to that it was 120 days away, but couldn’t say for sure. At an earlier meeting, WECAN had requested a delay so pedestrians could start crossing before the cars turned. She said that DOT has already designed the system and to put in the delay, it would have to be redesigned and the City would have to pay for it. Barb acknowledged that it has been a steep learning curve. Joann expressed frustration that this was not better planned during all the improvements to Clingman and that it still difficult to cross Clingman at Owens Bell Park because of the speed of cars. Marsha acknowledged that the City didn’t follow through on some efforts to slow traffic around the cross walk, but will look back into it. It was generally acknowledged that the Hilliard/Clingman intersection is dangerous and some bigger changes will have to take place in the future.
§ Bike Rodeo @ Hillcrest. Sat. July 7, 11-3 (volunteers needed, set up at 10)
§ Stand Against Racism Community Picnic. Monday, July 9, 6 - 8 pm at Aston Park
§ French Broad Cycling Classic: Sunday, July 22 (Clingman, Roberts, and Haywood Rd will be closed, surrounding neighbors should be getting letters, notification)
§ New Belgium Community Meeting. Wedneday, July 25. Time tbd
§ WECAN community potluck: Thursday, August 2, 6pm, Owens Bell Park
§ National Night Out. Tuesday, Aug 7 @ 5pm. Grant Southside Community Center
***Reminder that next month’s WECAN meeting will be a potluck at Owens Bell Park, on August 2, at 6 pm. Please join us!