Woodfin – Town Administrator Eric Hardy informed the town’s board of commissioners at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday (March 16) that the town expects to receive $1.9 million from the pandemic relief bill recently passed in Washinton, DC. That’s about half the town’s annual budget, according to Hardy.
“The details are still being rolled out,” he told the board as he announced what he knew so far. According to Hardy, the state will be getting $1.3 billion for cities and towns. He said that as the guidelines are made known, the town would learn “what eligible expenses may be paid from these funds…We don’t know enough yet to have any recommendations.”
Hardy said the first half of the funds would become available June 15 of this year and the second half available on June 15, 2022.
Commissioner Don Hensley asked Hardy if he had seen any guidelines at all as to how the funds are to be spent, to which Hardy replied, “Very general…it’s intended to be meant for relief from COVID… some of the categories will be public assistance, economic relief for those who have lost income during this time whether that be owners, landlords, individuals, wages…” He also mentioned that funds could be used for the town’s infrastructure needs such as water, sewer, broadband, and lost revenue by the town.
Hardy’s news came after the town’s public comment period. For more than 15 minutes, commissioners heard about ten adversarial comments from mostly non-residents from the Richmond Hills Community about the Bluffs at River’s Bend project, which borders the community and is still before the town’s planning and zoning Board until April.
Commissioners then passed a new zoning map for the town. Town Planning Director Adrienne Isenhower said they didn’t change any zoning but confirmed the zoning that was already on the map. Hardy also said the new zoning would be available on the Buncombe County GIS map online.
Woodfin ABC Chairman Tom Spradling then reported that sales at the store were up over 31% from last year and asked the board to release general and capital improvement funds of $334,000 to start work on major improvements to the current ABC store at 142 Weaverville Highway.
Hensley asked Hardy if the board needed to approve the fund release, and Hardy confirmed that it did. The board passed the motion. The bid was award to D. Michael Ward Construction of Asheville.
The commissioners also appointed six members of the newly formed Parks and Greenways Advisory Committee. Walt Brewer, Lucy Crown, Gerald Green, Chris Bubenik, Coral Darby and Bryan Messing were appointed to the board, with Vice Mayor Debbie Giezentanner appointed to the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway Steering Committee. The board still has to select one member and two alternatives to complete the Parks and Greenways Advisory Committee.
In reports, Hardy updated commissioners on the Greenway/ Blueway project, telling the board he had met with Buncombe County and the new
Tourism Development Association Executive Director. He also said Silver-Line Park was moving along with Phase 1 to be completed this summer. Riverside Park expansion and the “Wave” design contract negotiation were nearing completion, with a WRD grant decision expected by early May. There are no changes in greenway progress with a contract pending for preliminary design with “best case” construction to begin in the fall.