Citizens Express Planning Priorities - TribPapers

Citizens Express Planning Priorities

Citizens gave input in person and online on what they want most in the City of Hendersonville. Photo provided.

Hendersonville – Hendersonville planning now shifts from recent public input to an “implementation” phase of developing a vision statement, goals, strategies, and ultimately the 2045 Comprehensive Plan.

However, public input remains ongoing. The last call for taking the separate, ten-question online survey specifically about Hendersonville-owned parks is at the end of this month. The link is:

The public input process continues for more generalized  “Gen H (Hendersonville)” planning. An open house will be on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 4-6 p.m., in the Henderson County Public Library main branch. The prior open house was on Nov. 20. City Council members took turns leading Gen H “Comp-versation” input sessions in recent months.

In addition, a “Gen H Pop-Up” public input station was at Hendersonville High School’s Dietz Field during the football game on Oct. 27. City Council held input sessions with the Planning Board and Downtown Advisory and Business Advisory boards.

The three-month online Gen H Comprehensive Plan Survey ended in mid-November. It had more than 3,200 respondents. Most were female college graduates who live within Hendersonville limits. Schools surveyed students in civic classes. They said that they go to Downtown Hendersonville mostly to dine, shop, or for festivals.

Survey respondents’ three main concerns by far were handling population growth, housing affordability, and appearance of community structures and open areas.

The online Gen H survey’s first question was to rate one’s top three concerns about the city. Priorities are effects of population growth (52%), housing availability and affordability (35%), safety (29%), water quality and other environmental health (26%), quality education (22%); and quality of and access to recreation, parks and trails.
Preserving farmland and “critical environmental areas” (65%) and maintaining Hendersonville’s “distinct character” (60%) were runaway priorities.

Cultural and entertainment venues such as theaters and galleries (46%), dining (39%), and parks (35%) top what people want more of.

“Land management” (82%) topped “sustainability” priorities, and involves recreation, shade tree canopies, and community gardens. To make the city more walkable and “bikeable,” two-thirds of respondents want more sidewalks and also bikeways.

Parks Survey

The ongoing parks survey helps get the Hendersonville Parks and Greenspace Master Plan (PGMP) of 2011 updated, with next summer its targeted timeline for adoption, city spokesperson Allison Justus said. Recent in-person forums also assist the PGMP Advisory Board.

“The master plan will prioritize the Parks Division’s funding and resources, review staffing, and envision where and what types of parks, green spaces, and greenways will be needed in Hendersonville in the future,” Justus stated.

“Greenways are connections between parks, waterways, and neighborhoods,” Supt. of Public Works Mark Stierwalt clarified.

The online parks survey lists priorities that the city is weighing public opinion on. They include small neighborhood parks, picnic pavilions, park amphitheaters, more paved or unpaved trails, and shaded benches or mini-park gardens along trails or Main Street. Multi-purpose athletic fields, playgrounds, a disc golf course, lawn bocci ball, and concrete-secured cornhole courts are among public space amenity options.

A critical online survey question is listing the three priorities for projects. The six choices are: improving existing parks and amenities, adding small neighborhood or “pocket” parks, putting parks first in “underserved” areas, adding parks near high-density work or residential areas, buying ten or more acres for large parks, and developing a downtown “destination” park. The survey is not limited to city residents.

Pocket parks in small available spaces include MLK Park at the bus stop near the main courthouse, and HonorAir Park at its south entrance.

A city recreational jewel is the 18-hole miniature Laura E. Corn Mini Golf Course in Edwards Park by Five Points. It was dedicated on Oct. 9, closed for winter, and reopens next spring.

The city’s main park is Patton Park, with its Olympic-sized outdoor pool and a skate park. A $300,000, eight-court project is set for Patton Park, Public Works Director Tom Wooten said. Its two tennis courts will be replaced by new ones, with greater fenced-in space. There is room at that spot, above the 45-year-old pool, for one new tennis court and four pickleball courts. A new tennis court and two pickleball courts will go where racquetball and handball courts were demolished, Wooten further said.

Henderson County oversees huge Jackson Park, and is developing the Ecusta Rail Trail heading toward Brevard.

Trail options include paving them for smoother bicycling and walking, which is costlier. Non-paved trails are cheaper to develop, but require maintenance. Security lighting and poles with 911 call buttons such as on the Oklawaha Trail are safety priorities for many trail users. If a mugger robs the victim’s cell phone, the victim can still call for help.