With a new year comes new programs,
and projects to improve our community.
Here’s a look ahead at Asheville City government
initiatives in 2018.
We couldn’t get the list down to 10 items
so here are a dozen to look for in the coming year.
New, more diverse City Council
Asheville City Council 2018: Standing, left to right, are Keith Young, Brian Haynes, Mayor Esther Manheimer and Julie Mayfield. Seated, left to right, are Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, and newly elected councilmembers Vijay Kapoor and Sheneika Smith.
With the addition of Sheneika Smith and Vijay Kapoor to Asheville City Council, voted into office in November, 2018 will mark the advent of Asheville’s most diverse City Council to date. It will also be the first woman-majority Council.
Asheville has a City Manager-City Council form of government in which City Council makes policy and the City Manager conducts the day-to-day business of running City government. For more about City Council, visit the City of Asheville website.
Smart parking meters roll out
You may have seen new electronic parking meters installed on Battery Park Avenue and around the Grove Arcade. Those were part of a pilot program to test so-called “smart meters” in 2016. Well, they passed the test and Parking Services will roll out the meters to the entire downtown in 2018. The meters take your credit or debit card. By all means, cash is still accepted. The Passport Parking program will continue as well. The new meters will be installed incrementally.
North Fork Dam construction to begin
While mobilization began in 2017, construction activities will begin in earnest in 2018 to reinforce and raise the height of the North Fork Dam. The objective is to make the dam more resilient to seismic activity and less affected by major rain events. Impacts to nearby neighbors will include large construction trucks on the North Fork Road between now and the dam’s completion in 2020. Some blasting is expected between February through April. Find more information on the North Fork Dam Improvements webpage.
DSD electronic document review coming
Online and digital plan submission and review have been identified as the No. 1 request of the Development Services Department. DSD is beta testing an electronic plan submission/review program now for launch in first quarter 2018. Developers will have the ability to enter and review their applications online anytime, not just during DSD hours. By improving our process, the goal is to make submission and review easier for our customers.
Mountain Community Capital Loan Program
With $250,000 in funds from the City and $200,000 from Buncombe County, a pilot program, the Mountain Community Capital Loan Program will launch in 2018. Working with three lending agencies — Mountain BizWorks, Self Help and the Carolina Small Business Development Center — the program will be designed to help minority business gain access to funds to start or grow a business. Technical assistance will be required of participants who will then be offered loans, not lines of credit.
Asheville Fire Department Master Plan
Being strategic with safety is the goal of a Fire Master Plan update slated for 2018. In the Fire Master Plan, the consultants will work with City staff, solicit resident input and analyze data to inform and determine Asheville Fire Department’s needs in the coming years. The plan will identify long-term system needs, which will include the evaluation of new fire stations in areas that may have lower emergency response times.
RADTIP construction will ramp up
In 2018, the City expects to be deep into the roadway reconstruction as part of the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (RADTIP). The City also expects to open up a section of the greenway and one parking area at the Northern end for public use. RADTIP construction is anticipated to be complete in August 2020. Besides roadway improvements, RADTIP will incorporate new sidewalks, street trees, on-street parking, landscaping, bicycling facilities and stormwater improvements, much of it along Riverside Drive next to the French Broad River.
Bond projects move forward
In 2017, City staff began work on the $74 million in bond projects approved by voters in 2016. Much of this was in the planning phase in 2017. In 2018, some of it will move to the design and construction phase. An example is a complete repaving of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This project includes new sidewalks, stormwater improvements and pedestrian crosswalk additions. Keep up with project progress on the City’s Dashboard for bond and Capital Improvement Projects here. Visit the CIP and Bond Project map here.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Based on goals set by the community to achieve a vision of what it wants to be, the new plan — called Living Asheville, A Comprehensive Plan for Our Future — will be used by the City to guide its long-term development. Focus areas include a resilient economy, responsible regionalism, the natural environment and the built environment as well as equity and a healthy community. After more than a year of community conversation, the plan is expected to go City Council in 2018 for approval. Visit this link to find out more.
Climate Resiliency Toolkit
The Office of Sustainability has been leading City departments in a climate resiliency planning process. The idea is to consider climate-related threats and hazards (such as fire from drought or flooding/landslides from heavy rain events) with a goal of becoming more resilient, or better prepared for them, through what is called adaptive capacity. Climate resiliency is being incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Plan Update. The City expects to launch a Climate Resiliency Toolkit in 2018 that can help property owners assess any vulnerabilities with the goal of working together as a community to mitigate threats. Find out more here.
Velodrome to be completed
Bicycles will be zooming around the Carrier Park Velodrome in early 2018! The improved velodrome will feature a re-graded and resurfaced track along with new lighting, fencing and other improvements. Visit the Carrier Park Improvements webpage for details. A ribbon-cutting will be announced very soon!
WNC Nature Center new entrance
Construction is under way on a new front entrance, updated parking and group education entrance at the WNC Nature Center, 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville. This project will enhance the visitor experience for the entire community. It will make the facility better able to accommodate group visits and make the entrance ADA compliant. Ground broke on this project in April 2017. The new entrance is scheduled for completion in March 2018 at a cost of $1.35 million, including the design. Find out more here.