Sunday, December 23, 2012

I-26 Update

It now appears that there are some monies available to possibly complete work (still many years away) on a portion of the I-26 project, which has been in discussion for almost 20 years now.  Currently, there is funding to widen I-240 through West Asheville, but no funding to address the problems related to the I-26/I-240 interchange and Jeff Bowen Bridge (formely Smoky Park).  Regardless, the NC Department of Transportation will be having to update the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the entire project.  The I-26 ConnectUs group, which represents neighborhoods most impacted by the project, recently sent the following letter to NCDOT outlining its goals and considerations that it would like to see addressed as this project picks up steam again.

____________


Vince Rhea, P.E.
N.C. Dept. of Transportation
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1548

Re: I-26 Connector, TIP No. I-2513

Dear Mr. Rhea:

            Now that work on the I-26 Connector Project has begun again, the I-26 ConnectUs Group would like to provide the following comments to you and DOT regarding our hoped for goals for the project and the new EIS.  The I-26 ConnectUs Group represents most of the potentially impacted neighborhoods, including West Asheville, Burton Street, East-West Asheville, WECAN, and Montford.  Though we no longer have a specific representative for the Emma community, we continue to consider the interests of that neighborhood.  The group also has participation from the Asheville Housing Authority, Christians for a United Community, the design community and, of course, the Western North Carolina Alliance.

            The I-26 ConnectUs Project has revised its 2009 goal statement to better reflect the current status of the project and the need for all parties involved to step back from earlier, entrenched positions.  Our current goal statement, or vision, for the project appears below, and we would anticipate being able to support a project that met these goals: 

To ensure the long term health and success of the economy, citizens, and environment of Asheville and the surrounding area, the final design and construction of the Asheville I-26 Connector should achieve the following:
·       Safe travel for interstate and local traffic
·       Improved connections for all modes of local traffic
·       Minimal destruction of neighborhoods, homes, and businesses
·       Minimal harm to air and water quality
·       Improvements that match the scale and character of Asheville

In addition, there are several issues that we request the new EIS specifically address.  Many of these are standard considerations for EISs, but we want to be sure DOT understands what we think is most important and provides information that will help Asheville and DOT make the best possible decisions around this project.  Therefore, we request that the new EIS include the following; 

·       Recognition of the importance of the environment and character of Asheville, their role in promoting regional tourism, and an analysis of the impacts the various alternatives will have on these.
·       An assessment of the impacts the alternatives will have on neighborhood and city connectivity via local streets and documentation of specific impacts to neighborhoods.
·       An analysis of how this project helps advance or impede the goals and implementation of various plans adopted by the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and the region, including the Long Range Transportation Plan; the City’s 2025 plan, Greenway Master Plan, Transit Master Plan, Pedestrian Plan, and Bicycle Plan; and the County’s new Greenway Master Plan. 


·       An analysis of whether improvements to local roads and/or transportation demand management strategies would be effective at reducing local traffic on I-26.
·       A clear explanation of the traffic forecast and the resulting recommendation on the number of lanes, as well as the tradeoffs inherent in the relationship between the number of lanes and the level of service.
·       A new traffic forecast that uses a revised local model to see if state and national trends in reduction of VMT is occurring in Asheville and what impact that might have on the project.
·       An analysis of the application of the NCDOT Complete Streets Policy and the new NCDOT Public Health Policy to this project and how this project advances or impedes the goals of these policies.
·       A more complete analysis of the air and water quality impacts of the various alternatives.

For purposes of the EIS, we also note the addition of New Belgium to our community in the vicinity of this project, and we ask that the DOT consider in its design alternatives providing easier highway access for New Belgium truck traffic that reduces the impact on surrounding neighborhoods.   

            Finally, we encourage DOT to focus the funding available for this project on Section B.  We realize the only currently available funding is for Section A through West Asheville, but Section A is a much lower priority and, if funding continues to be limited, should be built after Section B.  In no case should Section A be built before or apart from Section B, as that would be unnecessarily destructive to neighborhoods, homes, and the environment and would not address any transportation need.

            Thank you for your consideration of these comments.  As members and leaders of this community, we look forward to working with you and others to design and chose the alternative that will best serve Asheville and its citizens and visitors for decades to come.  

Sincerely,
           
Julie V. Mayfield
Executive Director




Cc:              Asheville City Council
            Buncombe County Commission
            Paul Black, French Broad River MPO
            Jay Swain, NCDOT Division 13
            Rick Tipton, NCDOT Division 13

The Future of the Ice House

At the January 8 meeting, Asheville City Council is expected to vote on what to do with the Ice House property that the city recently purchased.  Please share your comments here on what you would like to see happen with the site. 

How can it be secured?  Should it be preserved?  Should certainly parts of it be preserved?  Should it be demolished?  If it is demolished, what should the site be used for until a more permanent solution is figured out? 

Below are two memos sent to the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission (AARRC) communicating the considerations and options that City of Asheville is exploring in regards to the site.  (The AARRC voted 10 to 1 in favor of a resolution to support the COA report to demolish the Ice House.)


TO:                         Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission

FROM:             Stephanie Monson Dahl, Urban Planner

SUBJECT:             Consideration of Advisory Position to Asheville City Council Regarding 
                        Disposition of Ice Plant Building at 91 Riverside Drive in the River Arts District

DATE:             December 13, 2012


Background:  The City of Asheville purchased the property, PIN #9638973694, for redevelopment purposes on November 30, 2012. The property includes 2.2  acres of open space on the French Broad River and approximately 1 acre of developed property  on the east side of Riverside Drive where the approximately 50,000 square foot building known as the Ice House is situated.

Review: City staff will recommended to Council that the building be demolished based on the following review: preliminary due diligence documents regarding potential for rehabilitation; staff’s understanding  that structural steel had been removed from the inside of the building/other compromises to the integrity of the building structure have been made while the building has sat unsecured for years; and the projected direct and indirect financial costs associated with supporting heavy security measures to protect public safety in and around the building. While staff supports the administration and achievement of many Council goals, protecting the public health, safety and welfare is staff’s chief duty.  Staff’s recommendation to pursue demolition of the building includes the preservation of the iconic smokestack to the south of the building.
The River District Design Review Committee held a special meeting on December 5, 2012 to consider this item, as it is part of their mandate by ordinance to review any building or demolition activity that will have a substantial impact in the River District. Because opinions on this item were diverse with no clear consensus on a recommendation to Council apparent, the Committee did not vote on the item.
Council will consider staff’s recommendation, consider public input, and give policy direction to staff on the immediate disposition of the property at their meeting on January 8, 2012. Council may consider a variety of options not discussed in this memo. Any associated staff report and exhibits sent  to Council will be available to the public on the Friday in advance of their meeting.

Pros and Cons developed by staff regarding demolition include:
Pro: 
·       Eliminates a health and safety hazard that is widely considered a public nuisance
·       Alleviates need for costly and potentially ineffective security measures by owner (City).
·       Provides a potentially more attractive redevelopment site for investor in the future, as more potential forms of redevelopment possible.
·       Cleans up physical appearance of district, potentially attracting investment and detracting disinvestment and blight/nuisance use.
·       Has potential for more interim uses (open space, parking, temporary uses, festival support) as a site than if the building remains, including potential revenue producing uses.
·       Multiple potential purchasers have reviewed the building, met with City staff, and have not found a solvent financial and business plan for the building
Con: 
·       Eliminates a contributing building to Riverside Industrial Historic District
·       If demolished, rehabilitation credits (Federal, state, and local) are unavailable to developers.
·       Cost to demolish: $145,000 base rate, plus contingency (not to exceed  $225,000)

If Council chooses to demolish the building, staff recommends that the newly acquired property be used in the short term for parking that supports riverfront revitalization (festivals and events/strolls, general business support and access to open space and recreation), and be used in the long term to support a redevelopment accomplished through public private partnership. In order to determine the preferred long term redevelopment option for the property the City will include 91 Riverside Drive as part of the Riverside Drive Strategic Planning process scheduled for Spring 2013.

 Recommendation: Staff recommends the Riverfront Commission provide Asheville City Council with a formal recommendation on the consideration of demolition or other disposition of the building located at 91 Riverside Drive.  

_____________________________________
 
SUPPLEMENTAL MEMO

TO Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission
FROM Stephanie Monson, Urban Planner
SUBJECT Policy Options for Disposition of Ice Plant- Expanded Discussion
DATE December 13, 2012

The purpose of this memo is to provide the Riverfront Commission with more information
about the policy options Asheville City Council may consider regarding the disposition of
the Ice House building at 91 Riverside Drive, recently acquired by the City of Asheville
for redevelopment purposes.

Primary Policy Options include:

Option 1 Extension of Current Efforts
Policy Goal: Meet the minimum (plus) for unsafe building ordinance requirements
regarding the abatement of life hazards associated with building. Directly respond to
Council’s Strategic Plan goal of improving public safety in neighborhoods with the
highest levels of crime.
Review: Staff is guided in this by Chapter 4, Article 6 of the Unified Development
Ordinance, regarding unsafe buildings aimed at protecting the safety of its citizens. The
Ice House as an unsecured, dilapidated building is a public nuisance, generating at least
250 calls for service to the Asheville Police Department in the past two years, with an
unknown number of unrecorded incidents. The building is compromised externally, with
penetrations of the building’s exterior spanning over 20 feet, allowing easy entrance to
the building. The Ice House is also compromised internally, which becomes a safety
hazard to curious passersby who regularly wander inside, people experiencing
homelessness that are seeking shelter from the elements, and any public safety officials
trying to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals or groups who have chosen
to enter or stay in the building. The dilapidated condition of the interior is evidenced in
photographs, confirmed by the apprehension of suspects deconstructing the building for
personal gain, and by building safety professionals noting rotting structural materials. At
minimum, the City must secure and or remedy by ordinance the building to an extent
that abates the hazardous associated conditions. The ordinance notes that if the owner
of the building cannot abate the hazardous conditions, a demolition must be sought.
City staff, as part of its current 60-day Security Plan, is currently meeting or exceeding
the minimum required to protect safety by the following measures:
Completed
• Evacuation and relocation of individuals living in the building: A team of outside
agency (Homeless Service Providers) workers and City public safety officials
found new shelter for 12 individuals and their pets living in the unsecured
building.
• Posting of structure being a dangerous building: City Building Safety personnel
posted “Notice of Dangerous Building” signs in multiple locations around the
perimeter of the building.
• Provision of additional physical security to the building: A city facilities team
closed as much of the exterior penetrations as possible using conventional
lumber and other readily available construction materials as of Tuesday
December 4th, 2012. Security tape was strung across areas they were unable to
board up.
Ongoing
• Provision of additional public safety patrol: under the direction of Fire Chief Scott
Burnette and Chief of Police William Anderson, additional patrols have been
implemented.
Next Step
• Provisions of additional operational measures to abate hazard: City staff suggest
that the safest and most secure environment can be created in the short term by
focusing on operational measures and human resources. Substantial physical
improvements to the building require Council‘s authorization and funding. Easily
compromised security measures like fencing around or boarding up the building
are considered impediments to the operation of police and fire when responding
to a call public safety; the City will provide a substantial operational presence on
the Ice House site that insures physical safety. This measure will continue until
policy direction changes.
Fiscal Impacts: $12,000 to $15,000 for 60 days, not including staff time such as
increased patrols, coordination of efforts, and use of labor to secure building.
Other Considerations: The extension of this plan from a short term, interim (60-day)
option to a six-month option or longer would not be recommended without additional
physical improvements to the building itself. Because of this, it is estimated that for every
six months, this option would cost $50,000 to $60,000.

Option 2 Demolition of Main Building and Preservation of Iconic Smokestack
Policy Goal: Meet the unsafe building ordinance and eliminate future need to address life
hazards on site. Create redevelopment opportunities that align with adopted plans and
strategies for the area. Directly respond to Council’s Strategic Plan goals of promoting
sustainable, high-density, infill growth that makes efficient use of existing resources, and
continuing efforts to rejuvenate the riverfront area by removal of a safety hazard that hasbeen deemed unattractive for redevelopment.
Review: Staff has developed the following considerations associated with the proposed
demolition of the Ice Plant building.
Pros:
• Immediately eliminates the hazards associated with the building’s condition and
fulfills the unsafe building ordinance requirement.
• Prepares the developable portion of the site for interim uses that support
revitalization of the riverfront, such as temporary commercial or special event
uses or parking for the same and for business accessibility or riverfront
recreation
• Provides a shovel ready site for developers looking to partner with the City on
new construction.
Cons:
• Eliminates a contributing building to the National Riverside Industrial Historic
District, meaning any potential future use of historic tax credits are lost upon
demolition
• Option eliminates a historic asset reflecting the cultural history of Asheville pre-
World War II
Fiscal Impacts: The City’s lowest responsible bid for demolition is $145,000. The City
expects to abate a moderate amount of asbestos before that time, and to pay $10,000 to
$15,000 to secure and protect the iconic smokestack. Creation of temporary parking lot
on site is estimated at $25,000 to $35,000. Council would be asked to allocate an
amount not to exceed $225,000 for the project.
Other Considerations: Staff concludes that the rehabilitation standards required to
access the tax credits appear to be unattractive to potential development partners, as
the limitations on redevelopment are significant. For example, few, if any, windows could
be installed on the exterior, and most of the building could not be used as habitable
space due to existing low ceiling heights.
In a related effort, a small area strategic planning process is underway to determine long
term uses of City owned property along Riverside Drive in the River Arts District. A
preferred redevelopment scenario will be chosen for the site(s) and presented to the
Riverfront Commission and ultimately Council. Staff will be guided by fiscal
sustainability; however, additional costs are likely to be associated with future
redevelopment.

Option 3 Non Profit Partnership Model/Preservation for Museum Project-
Policy Goal: Preserving the building for a monumental project based on the cultural
history of the riverfront. Supports future infill riverfront redevelopment project in
partnership with a nonprofit organization.
Review: This option suggests “mothballing” the building for a future museum project.
One redevelopment example has been presented to staff and community members in
the form of a Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The programming and resulting
spatial needs of the Museum model are based off the newly opened Peoria Riverfront
Museum (Illinois).
Pros:
• Preserves the building
• Displays the historic nature of the Ice Plant
• Could potentially spur a regional tourist attraction
Cons
• Does not mitigate the life hazard and associated liabilities
• Less support for temporary uses that support vibrancy
• Prolonged vacancy of dilapidated riverfront structures detracts from revitalization
• Narrows field of potential redevelopment partners
• No identified institutional partner at present
Fiscal Impacts: Unknown. The cost of a similar museum project is estimated at $80
million. It is likely that the municipality will carry a substantial amount of total
redevelopment or maintenance costs, as evidenced with such projects as Pack Square
Conservancy and the Grove Arcade Rehabilitation. Funding for institutional projects is
highly competitive, and corporate entities to partner with on a project of this size and
scope are limited. Minimum cost to the City to “mothball” the building is estimated at
$180,000; however, this estimate does not include continuing security and maintenance
of the existing structure.

Other considerations: Council will need to review national best practices for such a
project, including partnership/management structures, financial models and pro formas.
Staff notes that monumental projects such as these may provide high community benefit
in the long run, but require substantial time and public subsidy to achieve.

WECAN December General Membership Meeting Minutes (Draft)

WECAN General Membership Meeting December 6, 2012 at 64 Clingman Ave.
Board Members Present were: Byron Ballard, Joe Fioccola, Bret Frk, Yuri Koslen, Patrick Pearson (Proxy for  Suzanne Willis) Luke Perry and Joanne Skinner. Board Members not present were Jeff Carnivale, Jessie Nell Coleman, Tom Gibson, AnnaBeth Hardcastle, and Mike Kenton. Other Members present were:  Stephanie Greiner, Gray Hayes, Alex Krug, Rachel Larson, Hanni Muerdter, Mark Schieferstein and Addy Wygmans, Also present were:  Lt Jamee Crawford, CRO Evan Coward, Marsha Stickford, Steph Monson Dahl.

    Luke officially called the General Membership meeting to order at 6:38 p. m. with a round of introductions and recalling ones most pleasant memories of the past week.

ICE HOUSE: Lt Crawford gave an overview of the Ice House Property at 91 Riverside Dr. A joint effort of several city departments resulted in the city’s acquisition of the property last Friday. Steph reported that an order of demolition which was on the last City Council Agenda has been removed and rescheduled for January. Comments on the impact of a demolition to the district were collected at a River District Design Review Committee meeting. A diverse range of opinions were presented from Safety: ‘people first’ to ‘it is the most important building and needs to be preserved.’ AB Preservation Society and the NC State Historic Preservation Office say it promotes visual harmony and historic integrity of the Riverside Industrial Historic District.  So demolition has been removed from consideration until additional due diligence has been completed. The current process consists of developing a menu of options, legal analysis with fiscal, environmental, political and economic impacts to City Council by the end of December and reconsider the demolition issue in January. Additional meetings are scheduled for the coming weeks to develop a public safety plan which includes increased patrols of the ice house as well as other vacant buildings in the district. The building is still not completely physically secure but the squatters have been removed, at least once and City staff have put up additional boards and tape at the site.  Lt Crawford said progress is slow  but in the right direction and the police goal is safety not necessarily preservation or demolition.  Canvassing of council members has been going on. Public input is welcomed at the Council meeting. Formal letters from organized groups are effective. Council can  receive comments by snail mail, email, and in person in advance of the meeting. The project has caused the city to look at vacant buildings and review the state statutes, codes and ordinances to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with these issues city-wide. The law enforcement process of dealing with vacant structures is complaint driven but responsive to criminal and public safety issues. We will see what can be done in the next 60 days. Luke thanked all the city departments for their efforts in this matter.

APD CRO: SFB: Evan came from a meeting with the South French Broad Neighborhood Their organization has had uneven progress but is refocusing on crime issues. Their biggest one is prostitution and Officer Kenny Clamser is the Police Departments spearhead in that effort working with Our Voice and Jail Diversion to redirect and rehab the women. SFB wants to meet with the Housing Authority and they want to have a joint neighborhood meeting for the residents around the Aston Park area in January or February  including WECAN, S French Broad Neighborhood and the newly constituted APD Housing units about the Aston Garden Apartments. Possibly in conjunction with the YWCA.  Other issues   People sleeping on the porch of Jolie DeSheas at 295 W Haywood St.  Evan will talk to them about lighting and signage. The light at the end of Jefferson has been fixed but there is still traffic going there and needles found. Evan encouraged recording tags for research but not physically blocking people in or getting physically involved. That information may not lead to an immediate arrest due to structural problems with the law and the learning curve of lawbreakers but could have other uses

TREASURERS REPORT
: Luke read a report from AnnaBeth. WECAN is tax exempt as a  501c 3 organization. (Incorporated in NC since 1997) The IRS had a question about refilling papers but AnnaBeth found that they are not required unless our annual receipts exceed $25,000. Our current balance is $256.79.

Joe reported  a SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY since our last General Membership Meeting :
Aug 2--General Membership Meeting O-B Park... Bicycle Race… Designs for a New kiosk at the bus stop at Owens-Bell Park… Aug 7--National Night Out… Sept 6…River Music Concerts on Riverside Dr... Sep 13 East Of The Riverway Day: Dog and Pony Show... Sep            18+20 Energy Plan Focus Groups:.. Communication Committee Block Jessies... East West Asheville Neighborhood/New Belgium... Roberts St Traffic Counts… Clingman Bulb out Striping… The Clingman Forest Greenway design team has been selected: Site-works Studios… Oct 4 Hillcrest Walkover bridge after 1 year.... Goat keeper... Bike skills park... Roberts Street Parking Plan ... Oct 10 New Belgium/EWANA Meeting ... 12 Adopt A Highway… 14 Garden Club…           Drainage Repair... IDIOT-ARAD… Oct 22-Master Plan Steering Committee… Nov 1 Ice House Discussion… Oct 19 Master Plan Steering Committee… Nov 26 Newsletter… Dec 3-Evie Littlejohn passed away.. Dec 6 General Membership Meeting… Election of Board Members… Master Plan Process… Refreshments…

MINUTES: The minutes from the August meeting and the minutes from the November meeting as corrected by Cara were approved as corrected:  There were 4 incidents that I know of (I've learned of more since the meeting, though): August: screams, no one located (correct as is) Sept: Man attacked by 4-5 people (correct as is) Oct: A man beat up by two assailants in the Ice House, the police were not called and the man was brought to a Shelter by Wedge employees Oct 27: Melissa Weiss gave her phone to the witness On Oct. 27 to report the beating which resulted in the death of Andrew Stephens Marsh (correction: Melissa was not to one talking to police on the phone). Thanks, Cara

ELECTION OF BOARD MEMBERS: Bylaws call for 3 year terms for board members who may serve up to two full consecutive terms, then they must rotate off the board for at least a year.  Attendance at meetings is not restricted to board members. So the fun may continue even while technically off the board. We meet the first Thursday of the month at 64 Clingman Ave at 6:30 p.m. Current Board composition is as follows:
Class of 2012::: Yuri/1*Expiring term renewable  Byron/1*Expiring term renewable Brett/2*Expiring term non-renewable
Class of 2013::: Jessie/1  Joe/1  AnnaBeth/1  Jeff/1  Tom/1     Class of 2014::: Mike/1  Luke/1  JoAnn/1  Suzanne/1
Joe thanked Bret for his service over the last 6 years as well as his continuing participation in the Master Planning process. Luke opened the floor for nominations. Joe nominated Byron and Yuri.  Yuri nominated Mark, Grey and Stephanie. Luke Nominated Rachel and Hanni, and Byron nominated Pattiy provisionally.  Then Stephanie, Grey and Hanni declined their nominations.  The slate of Byron, Mark, Rachel, Yuri and Pattiy (provisionally) was nominated to the Class of 2015 and approved by acclamation. Welcome aboard the board!
Officers are elected by the board at the January meeting.

MASTER PLANNING
: Luke gave an overview of the Ad-Hoc Master Planning Steering Committee meetings. They began to meet in August with awareness of the changes since the plan was written in 2000 and the changes and challenges that are immanent. The group has met monthly since then to review, study and analyze the Citizens Master Plan to see where we are now and facilitate a discussion with the neighborhood in the coming months.  Chapter assignments were made as follows: Yuri: Patton Avenue and Interstate I-240; Luke: Infill Opportunities; Pattiy: Riverfront Area and The Arts District; Bret: Green Infrastructure and Ecological Restoration Plan; Hanni: Main Street on Clingman Avenue and Lower Clingman Avenue; Joe: Top of the Hill; Bret: Existing Conditions (Data); AnnaBeth and Rachel Existing Conditions (Social);  Bret gave a brief overview of GIS. Geographic Information Systems integrate hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically connected information. GIS lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends. The use of  GIS has been enhanced by the city by providing access to a lot of their data. GIS will be a useful tool to inform the planning process.

EAST OF THE RIVERWAY: Luke continues to be in contact. As part of the nation-wide Sustainable Communities Initiative, the City of Asheville received a TIGER II Planning Grant to work with the neighborhoods of the “East of the Riverway” area.  Asheville is one of a few cities in the country to be awarded this grant which is helping fund planning efforts in the Southside, South French Broad, Hillcrest, Lee Walker Heights, WECAN and River Arts District.  The City of Asheville has partnered with Green Opportunities, the Asheville Design Center and many others to build stronger communities with a voice that is heard across the greater Asheville community. Some of the funding will be used to produce working drawings for the Clingman Forest and Town Branch Greenways, the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan, RADTIP, the Reid Center Job Training Center and organizing the Southside neighborhood.  Luke shared some graphic Census Data that includes only Census tract 9 which excludes Hillcrest Apts. He also distributed a copy of the RADTIP Preferred Alternative which was presented earlier today. Steph explained that the main focus for us was the 2.2 mile multimodal build out through the River Arts District and WECAN. The next steps are working with consultants to develop detailed drawings. RADTIP should be complete in about 5 years.

IN4M On Wednesday there was an informational forum about Buncombe County's 2013 Property Tax Reappraisal. At the meeting the main concern was gentrification and the impact of the New Belgium Development. NB should not have a direct impact on residential property values since it is a commercial property. Since no inspections are done beforehand the question was brought up that if one leaves the outside of a house looking shabby any improvements on the inside could not be assessed. However, assessors are aware of permits for major renovations. Luke passed around an information sheet and will present a graphic flow chart explaining the process by the next meeting.

RIVERSIDE DRIVE STRATEGIC PLAN: Steph announced a community planning process in March to develop a vision  and preferred use for the Progress Energy Brick Building behind 12Bones among other buildings in the area.

NEW BELGIUM DESIGNS: Luke showed some architectural renderings of the final designs for the brewery. Deconstruction should begin in January, site work begins in April and construction in September of 2013.

BLOCK JESSIES
: Yuri explained that Block Jessies are a development of the Communication Committee. Named in honor of longtime WECAN resident Jessie Coleman of Knoxville Place, they will be collectors of contact information and dispersers of  community interest and public safety information in their "block." They would not need to attend monthly meetings just be in touch with their neighbors on their block. However, monthly board meetings are fun and open and anyone may attend. Committed so far: Block 1) Chicken Hill: Luke; Block 2 ) Patton to Hilliard: Jessie; Block 3) Rector: ?; Block 4) Merritt Park:?;  Block 5) Prospect Terrace:? Block 6) Clingman Ave:?; Block 7) Clingman Lofts: Hanni; Block 8) Jefferson: Yuri; Block 9) Park Ave: Bret; Block 10) Grey Eagle:?; Block 11) Roundabout:?; Block 12) Riverside: Pattiy;  Contact any of them with questions, issues or problems. Some more Block Jessies are still needed.
Thanks to all those who brought food.
The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Joe Fioccola

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ice House- Thank You + Save the Chimney

Below is our follow-up letter to the City of Asheville for purchasing the Ice House property in order to effectively address the short-term challenges while also creating long-term positive outcomes.  There is discussion that the City will demolish the building, and if so, we are lobbying to save the large brick chimney.  Please come to the WECAN meeting this Thursday if you would like more information on this issue.
________________


December 3, 2012

Honorable Terry Bellamy, Mayor of Asheville
Asheville City Council
Gary Jackson, Asheville City Manager
Stephanie Monson, COA Riverfront Redevelopment Coordinator and Urban Planner for Economic             Development
Chief William J. Anderson, City of Asheville Chief of Police
Lt. Jamee Crawford, Asheville Police Department
Evan Coward, Asheville Police Department Community Resource Officer
Heather Dillashaw, The Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, City of Asheville
Marsha Stickford, City of Asheville Neighborhood Volunteer Coordinator
Dawa Hitch, City of Asheville Community Relations Division Head
Anne Simmons
Tootie Lee

To Whom It May Concern:

We very much appreciate the acknowledgement and prompt attention to the growing problems at the Ice House on Riverside Drive. It is clear the City leaders heard the concerns of citizens to address this problem site.  Beyond that, we were very excited to learn that the City had acquired an option to secure the property, and most recently, is now in ownership of the property.  With the city’s leadership and vision, we now believe that this site will actually become a significant community asset, instead of an ongoing community concern. Additionally, we commend the city taking a compassionate approach, working collaboratively across departments, to provide resources to those who had been utilizing the building for shelter.   
We are still concerned about the building being unsecured in the short term.  While we understand there are plans to demolish the building, we hope the City will take care to address the ability for people to access the building in the short term.  Additionally, if demolition does proceed, we request that every effort be made to save the tall, brick smokestack on the property.
Finally, we remain concerned about the other vacant buildings that remain open and unsecured, posing dangerous risks to the public.
We thank the City of Asheville for stepping forward with the leadership that was needed to address this issue and we look forward to continued collaboration among leaders and the community as our neighborhoods grow and change.

Sincerely,
West End / Clingman Avenue Neighborhood  (WECAN)

River Arts District Business Association (RADBA)

River Arts District Artists (RADA)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

WECAN Meeting this Thursday at 6:30

Please join us this Thursday, December 6th at 6:30 pm for our monthly neighborhood meeting.  This is our annual membership meeting and we will be having food.  If you are interested in getting involved, this is your chance as we will be updating our WECAN Board membership and have spaces open.  Additionally, we have a lot going on in the neighborhood that we will be discussing.  Here is the tentative agenda:

Introductions
additional agenda Items
Summary of activity since August--Joe
Approval of minutes of August Meeting
Nomination/Election of board members
                (Thanks to outgoing member Brett)
Master Plan
Block Jessies Neighbor survey
Ice House/PECI  planning
Updates: 
    New Belgium
    East of the Riverway
Ideas for the future of WECAN
Fundraising ideas

Please come and join us.  We meet at the Jessie Neal Coleman Community Room at 64 Clingman Ave (corner of Hilliard and Clingman).