Civic

Woodfin pursuing grant, hire new position among business at meeting

Photo by Clint Parker.

Woodfin Woodfin’s Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday evening (August 18) with its first order of business to consider a proposal by the Asheville-engineering firm of McGill & Associates to seek a $2 million community development block grant from the state in order to extend waterlines, especially in the Ingle Road area.

After hearing from Keith Webb, McGill’s vice-president, the board voted to pursue the grant and enter into an interlocal agreement with Woodfin Water.

The board also passed a revision of the Storm Water Resolution, which will bring the town into compliance with the state’s Department of Water Quality guidelines. Town Planner/Assistant Town Manager Michael Saunders told the board, “The town has received a second notice of violation.” Saunders said that paperwork was missing from their first attempt to satisfy the state and that he had reached out to the state and now had all the paperwork ready to send.

The board then took care of a “housekeeping” resolution declaring the town’s intent to reimburse itself for capital expenditures from “the proceeds of certain tax-exempt obligations.” The resolution is in connection with costs the town will incur as a result of building the parks and greenway.

The last item on the new business agenda was a consideration of hiring for a new position for a planning director to be paid between $70,000 and $80,000 annually plus benefits.  Woodfin Town Administrator Eric Hardy outlined the need for a planning director saying it would “bolster” the town in preserving qualities critical to the town’s identity. A planning director would also solicit public input and lay out a vision for the 10 to 20 years; revisit and revise ordinances and codes; and apply modern planning theory and strategies to balance the interest of the board, public and the development. The board approved the position and advertising for the position will begin to find a suitable candidate.

The board then heard department reports starting with Woodfin Police Chief Michael Dykes who said his department was starting to see numbers increase over last year, but that progress was being made with cases being closed.

While Hardy covered the other departments, he spent a lot of time on the greenway/blueway project noting that Riverlink had requested to be given project management of “the wave.” 

“RiverLink thinks they are best positioned to do fundraising if they are overseeing something,” Hardy told the commissioners. RiverLink already has an agreement with the town to raise funds for the greenway/blueway project but are now looking to explained their role by taking over as project manager of the wave part of the project.

Woodfin Commissioner Debbie Giezentanner was concerned about RiverLink’s quest to take over management of the project, saying, “Then we’re going to be criticized because we’ve given control up…This is something we need to think about long and hard because of the criticisms we’ve gotten from the public.” 

She also pointed out that RiverLink had gone from raising $4 million to $225,000 for the design of “the wave” only and wanted naming rights. Giezentanner was critical of RiverLinks role in the process thus far, saying, “The meetings I attended at RiverLink were not productive…Nothing was getting done and they were very negative. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on.” 

Woodfin Commissioner Ronnie Lunsford joined in the discussion, saying, “Woodfin should have control.”

Hardy was adamant about at least allowing RiverLink to be the communication method for the project. “My concern is that we will fail if it is left up to me and to town staff to communicate and to stand up the website and keep it updated.” Hardy has asked for RiverLink to develop a communications plan for the project. 

Giezentanner asked for a meeting with RiverLink before any additional decisions were made. The meeting was then adjourned to go into closed session.