UNC Asheville’s Update on Greenway Plans and Progress

Construction May Begin in the Fall
John Pierce, UNC Asheville Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations and Treasurer of UNC Asheville Foundation

While we still have some hurdles to cross, I am hopeful that we will be able to begin work in earnest on extending the Reed Creek Greenway this coming fall.

Teamwork
It has taken a team effort—by the Montford Neighborhood Association, RiverLink, the City of Asheville, and the UNC Asheville Foundation—to get us to this point. Here’s where we stand as I write this article and how we have gotten here.
The UNC Asheville Foundation bought the 525 Broadway property and organized a cleanup day last spring, when university students, faculty, and staff joined with neighborhood residents to plant trees and shrubs and clear away garbage and invasive vines.

Greenway to Run along the Creek
We met with city officials to plan specifics and to arrange an agreement that would place the greenway along Reed Creek rather than along Broadway Street, as originally planned when the land was owned by The Health Adventure. This change will make a better greenway. To make this possible, the UNC Asheville Foundation will give the city an easement for the greenway along the creek in exchange for city-owned parcels along Broadway.

State Grant Application
The main hurdles left are financial, but we are making great progress. The UNC Asheville Foundation is applying for a grant from the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation State Trails Program, and the good news is that our pre-application was accepted. We submitted a final grant application at the end of January.

Sweat and Dollars
We believe that strong community support—with sweat and with dollars—will help our application. The Montford Neighborhood Association has raised and contributed $12,000 toward RiverLink’s goal of raising $60,000 for the project. A greenway benefit auction hosted by Jo and Kevin Hogan of Montford brought in an additional $2,500. UNC Asheville students, through their student government representatives, voted to pay a $10 transportation fee during the next school year that will contribute roughly $34,000 to the project. Our students, like Montford residents, see the benefit of having a beautiful, safe pathway between the school, neighborhood, and downtown.
We have gotten unanimous approval from Asheville City Council for the commitments the city needs to make in terms of easements and funding, so we can submit the final grant proposal. In addition to the neighborhood and student contributions and to the grant funding we hope to receive, the Reed Creek Greenway will also be funded by the City of Asheville and the UNC Asheville Foundation.
We should know about grant funding by late summer, but in the meantime, we are already working with a landscape architect to develop a detailed design and cost estimate. If all goes well with the grant, we can begin work in the fall toward construction of a beautiful new greenway along Reed Creek between Catawba Street and Weaver Boulevard.