Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: There is a large field across from IC Imagine Charter School off McIntosh Road. Earlier in the year all of the trees that were on that property were cut down. There has been a great deal of development in the surrounding area of houses, condominiums, and rental units. Is there anything that’s on the books as to what is going to happen with this piece of property?
My answer: The developer has decided to make this spot a lovely wildlife and nature preserve. Oh, how I crack myself up!
Real answer: While IC Imagine has some growth in the works, which we’ll get to in a minute, this project on the other side of McIntosh Road is something totally different — more apartments.
This is the Hall/McIntosh multi-family project that the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment approved in early 2022, according to Planning & Development Director Nathan Pennington.
“They are well under way with permitting,” Pennington told me.
The permit is for McIntosh Apartments, which will include 14 buildings and 228 units on the 23-acre parcel. The project applicant is listed as the Hall Group LLL, in Dothan, Ala.
“A few more critical pieces” are coming together to allow the development to start construction, said John David Chambless, co-director of development with the Hall Group. Chambless said via email he couldn’t go into further detail.
“However, I can tell you we are currently anticipating the development to fully start construction in the fall of 2023, and (it) will take us approximately 20-22 months to build, so it would be early/mid 2025 before we would be complete,” Chambless said.
Regarding IC Imagine, it has “developed a master site plan for our 47-acre campus and have submitted it to the county for approval,” Head of School Jenn Townley told me. The request is on the Board of Adjustment’s meeting agenda for Aug. 9.
“The plan includes athletics fields, a field house, pavilion and expanded parking,” Townley said via email. “Additionally, it provides for the expansion of the main school building in the future. Given the growth of our school, the athletics complex is our first priority.”
IC Imagine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“This coming year we will enroll nearly 1,300 students from 10 different Western North Carolina counties,” Townley said. “IC Imagine offers a comprehensive academic program that fully integrates academics, foreign language, fine arts, physical and mental well-being, athletics, community service opportunities and leadership.”
You can find out more about the school here.
Townley noted that as a charter school, IC Imagine does not receive money from the state or local government to assist with capital improvements.
“All funding must be privately raised or set aside from an already lean operating budget,” Townley said. “Given this hurdle, we welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone interested in helping us achieve this vision.”
Question: I recently attended a Tourists baseball game. I usually park behind Asheville Gastroenterology. There are several lots that are used there that can hold a significant number of vehicles. This particular game was well attended and most of those lots were filled. Most people funnel between the buildings to get to Biltmore Avenue and cross over to the stadium. Most individuals cross in the area where the street and sidewalk lead up to the ticket booths. The problem is that there is no marked crosswalk at that location, although it is heavily used prior to the beginning of games and at the end of games. On the night I was crossing there were elderly individuals and parents with small children. Some vehicles pay attention, but others don’t. The same goes for some of the people who are crossing. Even though this traffic pattern is seasonal, has the city considered putting down some white paint to make that a formal crosswalk? Is there a possibility that the Tourists organization could have a crossing guard at that location to monitor both pedestrians and vehicles? It seems to me that it’s only a matter of time until a tragedy takes place in that location.
My answer: I’m pretty sure Ted E. Tourist is looking for some extra duties before and after the ball games. And it would be really hard to miss a bear in a baseball jersey directing traffic.
Real answer: In short, all three entities I reached out to for this question — the City of Asheville, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the Asheville Tourists — all said the same thing: Please use the existing crosswalks on either end of this street.
Let’s start with the city and spokesperson Kim Miller, who said the city can evaluate the pedestrian traffic pattern described.
“If creating a permanent crossing appears appropriate, then city staff can coordinate with NCDOT for their evaluation,” Miller said, noting that Biltmore Avenue is the NCDOT’s jurisdiction. “Marking a crosswalk does not always make crossings safer. We encourage pedestrians to walk to the nearest traffic signal and use the pedestrian features to cross Biltmore Avenue.”
As Miller noted, one crosswalk is only 250 feet to the south at Short Coxe Avenue, and another is about 400 feet to the north at Southside Avenue.
Asheville Tourists Owner Brian DeWine said the Tourists “continue to monitor all aspects of our operation including ingress and egress into the ballpark.”
“For the safest entry into McCormick Field, we encourage all of our guests to use the two crosswalks with lights that are located on Biltmore Avenue in front of the stadium (Short Coxe Avenue and Southside Avenue),” he said.
Anna Henderson, a traffic engineer with the DOT’s Asheville office, said they “do not have any current plans for any changes in this area because pedestrian signalization and crosswalks are provided in close proximity.”
She also mentioned the available crosswalks.
“We always recommend pedestrians cross at traffic signals where pedestrian accommodations are provided because motorists anticipate pedestrians crossing at those locations,” Henderson said.
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