Here’s a quick run-down of more action and intel from Asheville City Council’s meeting Tuesday night (Aug. 22):
-Protections for Craggy Mountains Wilderness Area/Big Ivy section of Pisgah National Forest: Asheville City Council passed a resolution encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to expand a proposed Craggy Mountains Wilderness Study Area as part of its forest management plan for Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. The action was a hit for a large group of green-shirted supporters who packed the meeting room and hallway to show their support. The Craggy/Big Ivy section of the Pisgah National Forest is a popular recreational area that’s also home to 44 rare plant and animal species. Will Harlan of the Friends of Big Ivy group called the area “Asheville’s ancient forest. He said the Forest Service continues to work on plans for the forestland and thanked City Council for its resolution “to keep Big Ivy wild, scenic and uncut” in terms of new logging. A handful of other speakers echoed Harlan’s comments.
-Introduction of Kimberly Archie: Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson introduced Archie, the city’s newly hired equity and inclusion manager. In brief remarks, Archie reminded City Council members that she spent the last six years in Charlotte, but prior to that worked on equity and community engagement issues for the city of Seattle. Archie told council she’s already created a first-year work plan that will create “equity tools” for City Council and city department heads to use to make policy and establish procedures. She said she’ll be engaging the community to find out how the public defines equity, and she’ll be gathering data. “I’ve jumped right in and we’ve already started,” Archie said. “I’m not asking permission.”
–Ken Putnam, the city’s transportation department director, gave City Council a quick update on planning for the Interstate 26 Connector project. The long-awaited road construction project will be six lanes, not eight lanes, through West Asheville, Putnam said. Also, the final environmental impact statement is scheduled to be available in summer 2018, with a “record of decision” coming in late ’18 or early 2019, Putnam said. That decision signals formal federal approval, and triggers the N.C. Department of Transportation to proceed with the formal design, property acquisition and more to move on the project, which has been discussed and debated in Asheville for two decades. Putnam also said that the city plans to hire consultant Sam Schwartz to help move the project forward. Stay tuned for more details about that, and plan on hearing a lot more about Schwartz.
-Dancing on a chair: City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, who for years has been a member of the Interstate 26 Connector working group in her capacity as co-director of the environmental nonprofit MountainTrue, said “all the news was not good” regarding the I-26 Connector. Some of the answers to questions “were not what we wanted to hear in terms of reduced impacts” from the project,” Mayfield said, adding that consultant Schwartz’s advice would be key. She ended on an up note, though, regarding the decision to reduce the width of the I-26 Connector to six lanes. “I did in fact dance on a chair,” Mayfield said, noting that it was a promise she had made long ago. Mayor Esther Manheimer, with her signature humor, laughed and quipped with a question to Putnam, asking if he did his own dance on a chair. “No ma’am,” a buttoned-up Putnam replied.
-Here’s a quick look at other actions Asheville City Council agreed to as part of its consent agenda:
-Resolution encouraging Congress to create a reliable, predictable stream of resources to
address deferred maintenance needs in America’s National Park System.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to accept funds from the North Carolina Clean
Water Management Trust Fund.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to commit the City of Asheville to provide the local
share required for various Federal Transit Administration grants including the 5307 Urbanized
Area Formula Funding Program.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with Passport Inc. to provide
for parking citation management services.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with French Broad Paving,
Inc. for the Year 1 Bond Resurfacing Project.
-Resolution making provisions for the possession and consumption of malt beverages and/or
unfortified wine at the following events:
1. Beer City Cup on September 3, 2017
2. Living Asheville Arts Festival on September 3, 2017
3. Goombay Festival on September 8 and 9, 2017
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager enter into a contract with French Broad Paving Inc.
for the Fiscal Year 2017 Asphalt Paving Improvements Resurfacing Contract 2.
-Budget amendment, in the amount of $45,938, to pay for stormwater elements associated
with the Fiscal Year 2017 Asphalt Paving Improvements Resurfacing Contract 2.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with
Buncombe County to partner on the Southeast Sustainability Director’s Network Grant
application for a weatherization program.
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into an agreement with ESRI, Inc. for a 3-
year contract for GIS software maintenance.
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with McGill Associates, PA, for
the Asheville Parks Sport Ballfield Upgrades/Renovations Bond Project.
Technical Capital Project budget amendment, in the amount of $52,911, to move funding for
the design of the Montford Park Complex from the General Fund to the Montford Park
Complex Bond Project in the General Capital Projects Fund.
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a Professional Engineering Services
Supplemental Agreement with CDM Smith, Inc., for the Mills River Water Treatment Plant
Miscellaneous Upgrades Project.
-Resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute contracts with Cherry Bekaert LLP for auditing
services for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to apply for and accept if awarded from the Federal
Transit Administration the Federal Fiscal Year 2017 Section 5339 formula funds to be used
for the “Transit Station Renovation” project.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with Rogers Group, Inc. for the
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Pavement and Sidewalk Improvements Project.
-Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with ADC Engineering to
provide design services for Asheville Parks Sport Court Upgrades/Renovations Bond Project.
-Initial Findings Resolution for Limited Obligation Bonds and setting a public hearing for
September 12, 2017.
Thank you so much for the detailed coverage of this city council meeting. Please keep up this excellent coverage, Jason. I’m so glad you’re doing it.
did they discuss the “afforable housing” subject at all, i heard they were going to do that. thanks for your hard work!! please keep it up! i love ashvegas!