WECAN Board Meeting January 3,2013 at 64 Clingman Ave.
Board Members Present were: Jeff Carnivale, Joe Fioccola, AnnaBeth Hardcastle, Yuri Koslen, Rachel Larson, Luke Perry and Pattiy Torno. (She agreed to serve!).
Board Members not present were Byron Ballard, Jessie Nell Coleman, Tom Gibson, Mike Kenton JoAnn Skinner and Suzanne Willis.
Also present were: CRO Evan Coward, CRO Tyler Radford, Mike Sule and Addy Wygmans,
Luke officially called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. with a round of introductions and recalling something interesting or unusual over the holidays.
THE MINUTES were approved with the following corrections: Luke will 'TRY TO' (present a graphic flow chart)...and the following paragraph edited by Steph Monson:
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.
NOTE: due to sensitivity of this and other issues, future minutes will be published as DRAFT minutes until they are approved and corrected by the board.
APD CRO UPDATE: Ice House increased patrols have been noticed and appreciated. Increased patrols at the dead end of Jefferson have also been noticed thanks to the enthusiastic new officers recently released to solo status. More homeless camps have been noticed with campfires south of the Riverlink bridge on the west bank. "Open Burning" is permitted by the fire department (literally--they issue permits) and is allowed on days designated by Air Pollution Control as 'open burn days' before 3 p.m. Contained burns such as fire pits or steel barrels do not require permits. Luke reported a break in on Club Street with a description of two possible suspects who have not been seen since. Evan encouraged neighbors to call in any suspicious activity or unusual people in the neighborhood. Officers will respond and at least get their names on record. A Community meeting on Tuesday January 15th from 6-7:30 at the Housing Authority Board Room at 165 South French Broad Ave will be held with Aston Park neighbors, SFB and WECAN and the new police department Housing Units. Yuri expressed a need for there to be a place where it is legal for homeless people to camp outside and avoid the restrictions placed by the nearby homeless shelters. Pattiy noted that if campers were responsible and cleaned up after themselves it might be different. Luke said he would invite Heather Millstein with the Homeless Coalition to come to a future meeting to converse on these issues.
TREASURERS REPORT: AnnaBeth noted a donation by Joe and Byron and will have a complete treasurers report for the next meeting .
ONGOING UNRESOLVED ISSUES: Luke mentioned the following to keep them on our radar:
Clingman Hilliard Ped Heads: Bids have been received, contractors contacted and waiting on contracts.
Clingman Speeding: problem backing out of driveways safely--possible solution convex mirrors?
Roberts Street Traffic Calming: no progress on sidewalks from circle to White Duck.
Pedestrian bridge fencing and railing: somewhere between the city and DOT no progress yet.
Greenworks pedestrian bridge landscaping/maintenance: no progress.
Kiosk Permit: Still not issued. Parks and Recreation was supposed to pay for it.
Pattiy reported that RADBA was asking for parking space striping and bulb outs on Roberts Street between the circle and the five points.
BLOCK JESSIE UPDATE: Luke brought up the pre-Christmas house fire at Sven and Melissa's at 11 Park Avenue. There was minor structural damage, a lot of smoke damage and Sven was severely burned. A collection from those present raised $100 as a gesture of neighborliness. AnnaBeth will remit to them. Yuri made a resolution to get the Block Jessies actively going in 2013.
ICE HOUSE DISCUSSION: The decision to demolish the Ice House will go before City Council on Tuesday January 8th at 5 p.m. Staff is recommending it be demolished and be replaced with a surface parking lot.
There appeared to be a need for overflow parking in the area for Jean Webb Park , for river access and the concerts that were held there last summer. There is also an opportunity for a pedestrian walkway from the Curve Studios north almost to the Railside Studios. Pattiy reported that the River District Design Review Committee considered the demolition issue and did not come forth with a formal recommendation but there was enough discussion to suggest a reconsideration. One proposal was to install a museum (estimated cost $86 million.) Any suggestion will come with a price tag and funding that will be a challenge with several capitol campaigns currently in the works. RADBA and RADA are sending letters of support for the demolition but retaining the smoke stack as an icon with special lighting. However, since "to be lit is must be a designated landmark" (whatever that means legally) no one knows if is structurally sound enough to withstand the nearby demolition. Pattiy noted that the entire district is on the National Register of Historic Places. Other considerations discussed included: could the graffiti be preserved? since there are two ground levels and a wall surface would remain could it be used for graffiti? (Whatever the artistic value may be, Joe expressed resistance to encouraging graffiti anywhere since the allowed graffiti at the Chesterfield Mill site spilled over to other buildings and structures in the neighborhood.) Is the chimney a home to swifts? Is that an endangered species angle? Could the machinery be preserved? (Evan noted that there is minimal machinery left.) Rachel referred to the Seattle Gas Works Park where machinery was made safe after the building was removed. Will there be Historic markers to tell the story of the industrial development in the area? The question of the remnants of the Asheville Cotton Mill which also has a smoke stack and does have some machinery and which Riverlink has owned since 1995 and has no plans for other than holding the site for a future unknown large project. Luke volunteered to draft two letters one in support of the Ice House and the one about the Cotton Mill.
NEW BELGIUM: Luke reported on the Planning and Zoning Meeting on Wednesday which included Craven Street improvements and the whole project. EWANA expressed concerns about truck traffic on Haywood Rd. After four hours of discussion they settled on two conditions: one that 70% of truck traffic not use Haywood Road but use alternate routes. Second that yearly traffic counts be done to determine if other changes are called for. Luke expressed concern for the Roberts St alternate route. Luke asked for feedback to take to Council for their January 22nd meeting. Pattiy noted that even though EWANA wants to keep truck traffic off Haywood Road the West Asheville Business Association wants the traffic. Luke mentioned that for a southbound alternate route through Roberts Street at the NB Meeting Thursday morning it was suggested to make Clingman Extension and Roberts Street one way around the Grey Eagle. Pros include a wider lane, both sides parking and bicycle lanes. Cons include turning radii. Consideration of the northbound route focused on the height of the Riverside Drive Rail Road Trestle. Problems noted are that it is too low for the height of the trucks needed and the turning radius from the Smith Bridge to Riverside is not big enough to accommodate the larger trucks. The turning radius issue is being considered by the RADTIP plan. The Trestle appears to be the holy grail of solutions. The possible solutions include: to lower the road, to replace the trestle to increase the opening and/or raise the tracks, use smaller trucks, and pave over the spur over the east side of the trestle. Each of these presents obstacles but each also deserves to be compared with the others in terms of cost and benefits. At the NBB meeting it was noted that city staff has not been in contact with the railroad, but anecdotally that the Riverside Trestle may bes on the Railroad's maintenance list to be repaired or replaced. Pattiy countered that RADTIP had recently been in contact with the railroad and they were adamant that they would not alter or replace the trestle. Mike cited the Haywood Corridor Study which noted current problems such as inability for handicapped to reach crosswalk buttons, no bicycle lanes, etc. He noted that it's not just trucks it is also infrastructure. As far as DOT is concerned two traffic signals and painting 'share the road' is all they have committed to but there is a feeling that there is a fleeting opportunity to get more infrastructure such as bike lanes, parking, sidewalks, bus stops, etc to accommodate trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists. Truck traffic is coming and will continue to increase. This could be a win-win for true multi-modal transportation which is a stated but apparently low priority goal of the NC DOT. WECAN and EWANA both want what's best and doesn't want to simply shift the problem to another neighborhood. It is not known if they realize that shifting truck traffic will also lower the possibility of getting the infrastructure improvements that would enhance the Haywood Road corridor. Luke suggested that the northbound route has to be ruled out first. The advantages that recommend it are that it is the closest route to an interstate and to all directions and it would not pass through any residential area and therefore have the least impact on any neighborhood traffic. That said, it would also reduce the opportunity for infrastructure improvements through neighborhoods. Mike also noted that the issue of truck traffic should be considered separately from New Belgium visitor traffic for those reasons and that the Chamber could get involved with the tourist routing issue. Pattiy noted there is a lot of passion about the issue and it should be tempered with facts. Rachel and Yuri will draft a paragraph or two about our discussion and the need to do due diligence and consider every obstacle to the north bound route before it is ruled out and distribute it for review and comment.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS: Yuri nominated the slate of officers as follows: Luke as Chair, Rachel as Vice Chair, Anna Beth as Treasurer and Joe as Secretary. Motion passed unanimously.
MASTER PLANNING: Next meeting at AnnaBeth's at 26 Jefferson Dr on January 17th at 7 p.m.
For next meeting: Garden Club Work Days Needed.
Upcoming Events: 'Hard to Recycle' Event Saturday January 12th 11 a.m.-3 p.m. At Aarons (Park Terrace Center)-1298 Patton Avenue.
Thanks to Luke and Rachel for shortbread cookies, chocolates and toffees.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
DRAFT Minutes submitted by Joe Fioccola.