The Board of Commissioners is moving forward with putting funding behind renovating McCormick Field. During its meeting on March 21, Commissioners approved having staff look at providing as much as $250,000 per year for 20 years to help upgrade the Asheville Tourists Minor League Baseball facility. Along with the County, the City of Asheville, the Tourism Development Authority (TDA), and the Asheville Tourists baseball club are contributing to the stadium upgrades and renovations.
“I want the project to be successful but done in a way that is financially responsible to taxpayers,” noted Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “If we make a long-term commitment… it’s important that the taxpayers feel confident the [Asheville] Tourists, as a business, will fulfill its obligations over the life of the lease.”
In all, McCormick Field is looking to have $56 million in renovations and improvements such as creating capacity for additional events and activities such as ice skating, concerts, and high school games. Staff will bring a more detailed outline of a proposed financial agreement before Commissioners before final approval of the funding. You can read more about the McCormick Field funding here.
Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month, and the Commissioners declared a proclamation to honor and recognize the past, present, and future contributions of women to the history of Buncombe County and beyond. It reads in part: “Buncombe County is proud to join in the nation’s celebration of Women’s History Month and the 2023 theme 'Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,' which honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.” You can read the entire proclamation here.
EMS Director Taylor Jones recognition
Taylor Jones is being recognized by Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) as a Top 100 Influencer in local government. Taylor has been at the helm of responding to everything from natural disasters to being instrumental in leading Buncombe County’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and he says he draws from all those experiences to make informed decisions. “I use lived-experiences to pilot modern, unbiased emergency services programs to enhance our service delivery to the residents and visitors who live, work, and play in Buncombe County,” says Taylor. You can read more about his award here.
Open Space Bond conservation criteria
As work moves forward with using the $30 million Open Space Bond to help with conservation efforts, the Board discussed a set of criteria that will define how proposed areas will be evaluated for land conservation. The criteria was created by County staff with input from the Agriculture Advisory Board, Land Conservation Advisory Board, and the public. The evaluation method creates an overall score based on various factors such as:
- The size of the land
- Proximity to existing preserved land
- Scenic viewshed protection
- Farmland preservation
- Public benefit
Commissioners deferred voting on the criteria to have staff research ways to make sure conservation efforts don’t undercut other priorities, specifically the development of affordable housing.
The Open Space Bond land conservation criteria will go back to Commissioners at a future meeting. You can learn more about the Open Space Bond conservation criteria here.
Creation of Homelessness Response full-time position
In an effort to better respond and provide resources to our community’s unhoused population, Commissioners approved creation of a full-time position that will work with people experiencing homelessness. It’s part of an overall partnership with the City of Asheville to identify and coordinate responses to issues outlined by a report provided by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. This position will be housed in the Planning Department and lapse salary in the functional area will be used to cover the new position for the current fiscal year. You can read more here.
Quiet zone at private rail crossing
Commissioners approved establishing a quiet zone for a railroad crossing in East Asheville. The request comes on behalf of a group of hotels near Tunnel Road that are located nearby the private crossing that provides access to a billboard and MSD lines. MSD stated it has no objections to a quiet crossing as long they maintain access to the area. You can read the resolution here.
Budget amendment for CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization
Commissioners approved accepting state funding that will help local homeowners. The $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant will fund home repairs for low- and moderate-income homeowners. The period of the award is from April 1, 2023-Sept. 30, 2025. The County is not required to provide match funding. You can read more here.
Woodfin greenway budget amendment
Commissioners approved accepting additional funding from the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) for the Woodfin Greenway project. The budget amendment will increase the TDA grant amount by $5,890,000 and also extends project deadlines and revises the payment schedule. This grant ordinance increases total grant funds from $2,250,000 to $8,140,000 and moves the original budget to the Grants Fund. These grant funds will be passed through to the Town of Woodfin. You can read more here.
Woodfin Greenway – TDA Grant Award
The Board pulled the item “Woodfin Greenway – TDA Grant Award” from the regular agenda.