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The papers were signed recently, and RiverLink officially became the owner of what everyone who has ever traveled Amboy Road knows was the place to buy “Your Parts in the Park.”
Ted Tilson Wells worked on or near Amboy Road most of his life. He remembers when the old Asheville Speedway was just a dirt track. EDACO has been used as an auto salvage yard for over 20 years.
The RiverLink Board of Directors is proud to announce that it has acquired the 5.33-acre EDACO property in a bargain sale, which the owners are financing for 5 years. After two appraisals documenting the value of the property at over one million dollars, Ted Wells has agreed to a $900,000 sale price spread over 5 years.
This acquisition would not be possible without the generous support of Shelli and Bradford Stanback. The Stanbacks have been generous donors and strong advocates of conservation, open space and the riverfront revitalization project for decades. They recently placed their farm in Sandy Mush into a conservation easement with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Land Conservancy. Brad is especially interested in rebirthing and reintroducing chestnut trees throughout the region. Chestnut trees were decimated throughout the USA due to disease.
With any auto salvage yard there is always the perception of contamination. RiverLink has submitted a formal request that the EDACO property be accepted into the NC Brownfield’s program for assessment. To date no environmental assessments have been completed at EDACO.
Since the NC-DOT has already appropriated enhancement funds to include pedestrian facilities along Amboy Road – the old speedway contiguous on the west of EDACO and French Broad River Park contiguous to EDACO on the east will be immediately linked for pedestrian and bicycle usage using NC-DOT enhancement funds. This linkage of the two existing parks will take place next to the existing road, between the existing fence and the road. However, the remainder of the property will remain fenced until the environmental assessments, and any remediation required by the NC Brownfield is complete. This process could take up to three years.
During the assessment process, RiverLink will be seeking public input into future uses at the 5.33-acre site. An initial survey has been developed and is available on our website at www.riverlink.org. However, future uses will be determined by the results of Brownfield investigations. It is RiverLink’s intent to add this most recent acquisition to the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay, a 17-mile continuous greenway linking the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers.
Today RiverLink is also announcing the sale of one linear foot sections of the Wilma Dykeman Missing Link EDACO fund, for $50 per linear foot to help acquire the EDACO property as well as other “Missing Links” in the RiverWay, and to promote implementation of the RiverWay. These certificates of support are suitable for framing and the RiverLink board hopes will be bought by individuals as well as given as gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. These are gifts for the future of our rivers.
In 1999 RiverLink sought funding from the NCDOT, Buncombe County, the Asheville Merchants Association, Progress Energy and the City of Asheville to create plans (economic impact, transportation, land use and greenway plans) to link the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers into a continuous 17-mile greenway that would protect the floodplain and promote recreational and sustainable economic development along the river corridor, as well as anchor the RiverWay at the Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters and the entrance to the NC arboretum. The resulting plans were named after Wilma Dykeman, since she is a native daughter and the author of The French Broad, as well as 17 other books, most of which are about WNC and the interface of environmental protection and economic development. The French Broad, Wilma‘s first book, was published in 1955 and has never been out of print. She wrote The French Broad nearly a decade before Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, the book usually credited with awakening the environmental movement in the USA.
The Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan has been adopted by the Buncombe County Economic Development Commission, the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, the NC-DOT TCC & TCA, and Land of Sky Regional Council and over 40 other community and fraternal organizations as “the plan” for revitalizing Asheville’s riverfront. For complete details of Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan, please view our website at www.riverlink.org.
RiverLink was established in 1986 as a non-profit dedicated to the economic and environmental revitalization of the urban French Broad riverfront. In 1989 RiverLink became the watershed organization after accepting the assets of the now closed French Broad River Foundation.
Since 1986, RiverLink has acquired several properties in the urban riverfront and facilitated donations of additional properties from Progress Energy as well as a three million dollar clean up of a former manufactured gas site on Riverside Drive.
In 1989, RiverLink acquired the Warehouse Studios at 170 Lyman Street, the first adaptive reuse of a former industrial building for artist’s studios in the river district. RiverLink houses seven local artists and its administrative offices at the Warehouse Studios. Today there are over 75 working professional artists and craftsmen in the urban riverfront.
In 1994, RiverLink was instrumental in developing the first greenway in Asheville at French Broad River Park. RiverLink received grant funding to develop French Broad River Park and greenway (which now extends down Amboy Road and has a very popular dog park, fishing pier and well used walking trails) from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Janirve Foundation, the sale of “Deeds of Support”, and a variety of garden clubs and local donors. Picnic benches, grills, bike racks, and benches were bought by a broad section of the community and still grace the park today.
In 1995, RiverLink acquired the former historic Asheville Cotton Mill. The Cotton Mill was destroyed by an arsonist and has recently successfully completed the NC Brownfield assessment program. RiverLink envisions developing the 3-acre Cotton Mill site into mixed-use, mixed-income housing with artist workspace in accordance with the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan and its NC Brownfield agreement.
In 1999, RiverLink acquired the 50 acre Asheville Motor Speedway on Amboy Road, which has become the most utilized recreational facility in the region. The old speedway features an in-line skating rink, seven Bocce ball courts, eight volleyball fields, a basketball court, a resurfaced track that now serves as a veledrome, a combination baseball and soccer field, a fabulous playground built with over 1,000 volunteers in five days and a wetland interpretative area. RiverLink raised $1.6 million to acquire and develop the old speedway into Carrier Park, placed a conservation easement over the park and donated it to the city for the residents and visitors to Asheville to enjoy in perpetuity.
RiverLink also holds conservation easement over Azalea Park where it has completed a $1.2 million dollar stream restoration on 1.3 miles of the river designed to protect the stream banks, help reduce downstream flooding and promote good fish habitat for native trout.
RiverLink also holds conservation easements on Ledbetter Road, off of Long Shoals Road, three conservation easements on Azalea Road in addition to the Azalea Park, and a three acre parcel on Azalea Road, all of which adds to the success of the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay.
RiverLink owns the license for the French Broad Riverkeeper program and employs a full time Riverkeeper, Hartwell Carson. The French Broad Riverkeeper’s job description is to educate, inspire and empower people and governments throughout the French Broad River watershed. Our Riverkeeper recently completed a 219-mile paddle trip all through the French Broad River watershed – from Rosman, NC to Knoxville, TN. RiverLink also employs a volunteer coordinator, Kathryn Blau, who is also an AmeriCorps volunteer, an Operations Manager, Chester Pankowski, and an executive director, Karen Cragnolin.
RiverLink sponsors the Adopt-a-Stream program throughout the watershed, river clean-ups, historic bus tours, and a wide variety of volunteer programs. For a complete description and to get involved please see our website at www.riverlink.org.
RiverLink also sponsors three awards programs: Critical Links, RiverWise and RiverBusiness. Our awards programs are used to recognize the importance of volunteers, good business practices and good conservation development in the watershed.
RiverLink receives no funding from area governments for operations and is entirely dependent on donations, memberships, and the good will of the people who love the river and want to see our rivers become vital parts of our community. Our donors are concerned about water quality, recreation, growth, protection of the riparian corridor and sustainable development.
(Image provided by RiverLink.)