March 26: DWAC Coalition Meeting!

DWAC is holding an I-26 Connector grassroots education and activation meeting on Sunday afternoon March 26 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Habitat Brewing at 174 Broadway Street (with parking available in the Moog parking lot and behind Habitat.) We’d like to thank Habitat for its warm welcome to community groups that wish to hold meetings at its facilities.  In addition to great beer and wine for purchase, here’s what to expect at this “don’t miss” meeting:

  • We’ll update you on where things stand with the City and NCDOT on the planning process for the “highway from hell!”
  • We’ll have DWAC window signs available for activists to distribute to businesses throughout the City.
  • We’ll tell you what you can do to help change the outcome of the current project NCDOT is planning.

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that the City of Asheville has finally acted on DWAC’s repeated requests to do two essential things:

  1. On February 22, the City finally released its Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a $200,000 contract to hire a multi-disciplinary consulting firm with engineering and highway planning expertise to assist the City in assessing NCDOT’s plans for the I-26 Connector and strengthen its ability to negotiate with State planners from a position of knowledge.  DWAC had initially requested that step in a meeting with Mayor Esther Manheimer last July.  Because City personnel and elected leaders charged with negotiating with NCDOT on behalf of the City didn’t believe it was necessary, this move was delayed.  DWAC continued to press the point, and so the City finally agreed that it needed professional expertise on this project.  The timeline as detailed in the RFQ indicates that the City is planning to have its consulting team under contract by the end of April.  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=26538
  2. The City finally added a page to its website about the I-26 Connector project in keeping with its open meetings and governmental transparency obligations.  DWAC has long-contended that a project of this size and scope that will change the face of Asheville forever demands ongoing public oversight.  Until February 20 of this year, the City and NCDOT have held all planning meetings and made project decisions behind closed doors in defiance of North Carolina statutes.  It’s in these “Working Group” meetings that the public can see what the City and NCDOT are negotiating in terms of improvements.  Go to http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/comm_public/projects_n_initiatives/i_26_connector_project.htm and review the minutes of the six illegally held meetings and you’ll see why the parties haven’t wanted the public in the room.  Rather than frank negotiations about fixing the size and scope of this project so that it’s right for Asheville and its residents, much of the discussion has focused on planter boxes and bike paths! 

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, March 26.  In the meantime, go to our website at www.dontwreckasheville.org  for more information; to sign our petition; and, to contribute funding for the DWAC effort!

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