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Plans for Asheville Riverfront Park


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This is real progress, no pun intended, towards creating a vibrant riverfront! It's good to see work moving foward and off the drawing boards. I do feel that Riverlink's plans and a revitalized and vibrant riverfront will transform our city into a great place to live and find jobs! More now than ever, bringing work to WNC is important. I also like the idea of cleaning up some of the nasty brownfields we have along the riverfront.

Progress Energy wants a park

By Rebeccah Cantley-Falk, STAFF WRITER

Aug. 13, 2004 10:30 p.m.

ASHEVILLE - Progress Energy plans to clean up the site of a former manufactured gas plant by the end of the year and donate the land for a park that city officials say will spur riverfront development.

The company announced its plans for the site, 31 Riverside Drive, more than a year ago and has since gotten state approval to move forward. A manufactured gas plant operated on the site from the early 1900s to the '50s, before natural gas became readily available.

Progress Energy will spend between $2.5 million and $3 million to remove about 10,000 tons of potentially contaminated soil, Nancy Thompson, community relations manager, said. The site contains coal tar, a byproduct of the manufacturing process.

Although the tar contains carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, the state has determined there is no immediate risk to public health, Thompson said.

The site, along the French Broad River, adjoins the Jean Webb River Park, which Progress Energy owns and leases to Buncombe County for $1 annually. The company will donate both parcels, totaling 8 acres, to the city of Asheville. Also, the Public Service Company of North Carolina will donate a small building on 3/10 of an acre as part of the project.

Plans for the park, which will be developed by Asheville Parks and Recreation, include an outdoor amphitheater and a "play hole" area for kayakers on the French Broad River.

The park complements plans for riverfront revitalization, said Karen Cragnolin, director of RiverLink, a nonprofit advocate for parks and greenways, as well as urban development.

"The plan is to bring more people to the riverfront," she said. "It's about living, working and playing on the river."

In July, City Council adopted the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan, developed by RiverLink. It calls for 17 miles of parkway along the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers, construction or rehabilitation of 656,000 square feet of buildings along the French Broad and a mixture of housing, retail and office space.

"I see the river going through incremental steps of development, and this park is a key component of that," Asheville Mayor Charles Worley said. "It makes it so much more attractive for businesses of all types to locate in that area."

Progress Energy had identified two former manufactured gas plant sites for potential clean-up efforts. Testing to determine whether remediation is needed continue at the second site, which is under the parking lot at the city's public works building. Tests so far have indicated that no action is needed, Thompson said.

Learn more at open house

Representatives from the state, city of Asheville, Progress Energy and RiverLink will be available to answer questions about the remediation plan for 31 Riverside Dr. from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at RiverLink offices, 170 Lyman St. The plan will be available for review at the open house and at the Pack Memorial Library through Sept. 10.

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