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Buncombe Commissioners approve $1.3 million for Enka-Candler sports complex

Enka-Candler sports complex

After an hour-long discussion and seven stipulations, Buncombe County commissioners approved donating $1.3 million to help fund a new Enka-Candler sports complex — although one commissioner described the proposal as a “little outside the norm.”

Enka-Candler sports complexThe Enka-Candler sports complex would consist of seven baseball fields on 90 acres near Interstate 40 at the former Enka/BASF manufacturing site. The land will be donated by Fletcher Partners, and the complex will be built and maintained by the Enka Youth Sports Organization (EYSO), a nonprofit created in the last few weeks. Buncombe’s $1.3 million would go to EYSO, which has not yet achieved its official 501(c)3 status.

“I think it’s a sound plan,” said Commissioner Holly Jones. “That said, we’re getting to [fund] a nonprofit where the ink’s not dry [on its status], there’s no financials to look at, so we’re kind of going out here on faith with a big dollar amount. I believe in you, but I just wanted to say that in terms of transparency and accountability that [what we’re doing] is outside of our norm.”

According to project progenitor and Fletcher Partners member Martin Lewis, the Enka-Candler sports complex will be entirely self-sustaining, if everything goes according to plan: “We would have sponsored fields, banners in the outfields, and we would also have tournament teams that would be coming in.”

The plan, according to Lewis, calls for hosting travel baseball and softball teams on the weekend, and paying for field upkeep with concessions, ticket prices and sponsorships. During the week, the fields would be open to the public, ideally for free, as long as public users cleaned up after themselves, he explained. This would enable the facility to remain solvent without further county support.

Buncombe’s $1.3 million funding came with four stipulations initially: that the spec building (from which the donation money is coming) sells to a private investor, that the EYSO secures the donated 90 acres from Fletcher Partners, that the EYSO garners $2.4 million from the Tourism Development Fund, and that EYSO secures $1 million in private donations. As of Sept. 2, about $750,000 had already been raised.

Commissioners added three more conditions.

Commissioner David King added an amendment that calls for EYSO to build a greenway, at a cost of about $125,000.

During the public-comment period on the proposal, Buncombe County Board of Education member Lisa Baldwin noted concerns about environmental safety. Thirty of the 90 acres sits on a closed landfill, and other land rests on the Hominy Creek floodway.

“We were comfortable,” Lewis assured commissioners. “After looking at the property and doing due diligence … we were O.K. with that.”

Nonetheless, Commissioner Joe Belcher put forth an amendment requiring that the environmental report be supplied to the Board and studied by staff as part of the conditions for the $1.3 million dollar donation.

Commissioner Brownie Newman raised concerns about the future of the facility. “In the long run … are there things we should be thinking about on the front end to ensure, when none of us are sitting here, that there is some long-term public accountability? … What if, in 30 years, this land is worth $50 million, and it’s converted from a public to a private purpose? I just want to make sure that this board is set up so that won’t happen.”

After some discussion, the commissioners added one more condition:  If in the future the nonprofit wants to change the use of the land from recreational sports, the Board of Commissioners would have to approve the change. This amendment brought the total number of conditions to seven.

Conditions in place, the motion to award the $1.3 million passed 7-0 for the new Enka-Candler sports complex.

Other business:

• County Manager Wanda Greene presented a few points regarding the county’s retirement incentive. So far, 131 employees have chosen to take the incentive, and will be leaving the county after Sept. 30 if they haven’t already left. Greene said it would take a few weeks to get all the savings information together. “We are losing a lot of institutional memory,” she said. “It’s been a little bit tougher than we expected, but I think everybody’s happy with the results.”

• The Board unanimously approved closing an unopened road in Candler. The road, Oak Street, was prepared by the county but never completed and opened, and the property owners along the road petitioned for it to be closed completely.

• The County had two “Good News” items. The first was a proclamation by Holly Jones to representatives of Minority Enterprise Development week, which is in its 31st year in Asheville. MED Week runs Sept. 8-14. The second was a presentation by the Asheville Humane Society, which saved a record 5,599 animals in the previous fiscal year and has not had to euthanize an animal since 2010.

Foodie vacation destination: The Admiral in Asheville, N.C.

Go For the Food is a weekly AP food and travel series about food as a driver of tourism.

BY LINDSEY TANNER

ASHEVILLE, N.C. | In downtown Asheville, good restaurants are as handsomely conspicuous as the artsy boutiques and bodegas that give the Blue Ridge Mountain mecca its trendy, vibrant flair.

IF YOU GOCooks @ The Admiral

The Admiral: 400 Haywood Road, West Asheville, N.C., 828-252-2541SunnyPointCafe

Sunny Point Cafe: 626 Haywood Road, West Asheville, N.C., 828-252-0055

Across the French Broad River, in West Asheville? Not so much. This is the funkier side of town, where families, artists and workers live in frame bungalows lining narrow, hilly side streets, and the main drag, Haywood Road, has an earthier, slightly gritty feel.

That's why driving down Haywood, you're more apt to notice the gas station across the street than the squat cinder block building that houses The Admiral.

"Chances are, you will pass us at least three times. You won't be able to find a good parking place," said Admiral co-owner Drew Wallace.

When The Admiral opened in 2007, Wallace and business partner Jonathan Robinson called this "the wage-earning side of town" and their aim was to create a successful dive bar/unexpected restaurant. It has more than met their desires. West Asheville has blossomed since those early days, and The Admiral has morphed from a neighborhood tavern into a destination restaurant, but it still feels like a wonderfully hidden gem.

Reservations are a must, unless you want to sit at the bar and are willing to wait. But those are the best seats in the small, dimly lit space. That's where you get the best view of the open, galley kitchen, where a quartet of chefs busily cook up small plates of unforgettable mussels, bathed in a slightly smoky sauce of San Marzano tomatoes; entrees like meaty, barbecue sauced pork chops with collard greens and root vegetable gratin; or an other-worldly version of steak frites, featuring black Angus rib-eye, sweet potato chips, green beans and quail egg salad. Desserts might include a sinfully delicious chocolate mousse with cherry clotted cream and red wine cherry sauce, but the eclectic menu changes regularly, so prepare for the unexpected.

"There is really no straightforward summary of our style" Wallace says. "The food tends to be a little more experimental than most of our peers." And much of it is locally sourced from family-owned businesses.

The slightly kitschy decor includes a neon "Dive" sign in one corner, a handful of industrial-looking hanging lamps and black-clad, tattooed and welcoming servers.

There are no uppity attitudes at The Admiral, and that's partly what draws Boomers, hipsters, business execs and obvious out-of-towners. Most appetizers and small plates cost $12 or less, and entrees run up to $30. On Friday and Saturday nights, tables are pushed aside at 10 p.m. for dance parties.

Also on Haywood Road is the informal Sunny Point Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but best known for amazingly fluffy and delicious biscuits and legendary waits for breakfast and brunch.

Live Views of the Clinton Rally


Preparations for the Bill Clinton Rally - Asheville NCBill Clinton will be speaking today at around 12:30 PM in an effort to drum up some more voter support for Heath Shuler in the upcoming election. Asheville Live Cam is happy to bring you live streaming views of the rally, the preparations (going on now) and the aftermath. We've temporarily moved the East Cam to the front page, where it will remain for the rest of the day. From the Asheville Citizen-Times:
Clinton is stumping for U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, who faces a strong challenge from Hendersonville Republican Jeff Miller in the Nov. 2 election. Hayden Rogers, Shuler's campaign manager, said they've

Mars Hill College Hosts Smithsonian Exhibit

Mars Hill College Hosts Smithsonian ExhibitI recently took a family vacation to Washington, DC and while we were there we naturally spent a LOT of time in the various Smithsonian Museums. We enjoyed it immensely, and so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mars Hill College is currently hosting a Smithsonian Exhibit titled New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.
Listen to America

Thoughts on Bele Chere

Bele Chere 2010Lately there has been talk of making some serious changes to the yearly Bele Chere festival that envelops downtown Asheville. Proposed changes include changing the dates of the festival and moving it to a different location. Bele Chere is always a big weekend for Asheville Live Cam, due to our location right in the middle of the action. Bele Chere 2010 was no exception. Every year brings a slightly different layout to the festival. This year it was centered more to the west side of our building (the BB&T building). I recall years where it was mostly centered around City-County Plaza and years when it even enveloped Wall Street. The constant, though, is that it is always in the heart of downtown, and that’s where it should stay. Make no mistake, this is not bias talking. Asheville Live Cam would probably benefit from the festival moving a little farther away, since our cameras can’t look straight down to the streets surrounding the building. Because of that, a lot of the action is missed. If it were a little further away, like around City-County Plaza or further west down Patton Ave towards the Westgate Bridge, we’d be able to get better views of the action. But to my mind, that’s not where the festival belongs. The heart of downtown Asheville is Pack Square, and that is where the festival should be centered. Changing the dates is a bit more controversial. It wouldn’t really affect this site, since we’ll provide the views regardless of the dates. However, it could significantly affect the festival itself. The main drawback about the current dates at the end of July is that it is just SO HOT! Moving the dates to a cooler period such as the Spring or Fall would make for a cooler and possibly more enjoyable time for festival-goers, but it could also seriously affect attendance. Bele Chere is currently the largest festival in the southeast. That could change if the dates are moved. From the Citizen-Times:
Others say that changing the season could impinge on other festivals that have staked out shoulder seasons, such as the Greek Festival in September. Also, keeping Bele Chere running depends in large part on volunteers, many of whom may not be able to donate labor outside summer months, said Byron Greiner, president of the Asheville Downtown Association.
Losing the volunteers would be bad, but this is the quote that my mind keeps coming back to:
Greiner, a former Bele Chere committee chairman, favors changes but says they can be risky.

Click Through for a Good Cause

Gulf Oil Spill Orange Beach Alabama
Image by lumis via Flickr
The Gulf Coast is on everybody’s mind these days, what with the oil spill still spreading. Asheville’s tourism partners want to help out in this time of need, and so they have pledged a dime for every visit to AshevilleTourismCares.com between now and July 2. It only takes a second to click through and every visit helps. From PR Newswire:
The Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau is reaching out to the Gulf Coast in an effort to provide some support in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.A recent Washington Post article noted how challenging fundraising has been in the wake of the Gulf oil spill. According to the article, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that $4 million has been raised so far to assist with efforts in the Gulf compared to more than $6 billion that went to the region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As a strong outdoor and conservation-minded community, Asheville’s tourism community is deeply concerned about fellow tourism destinations along the Gulf Coast. Many of the partners here have direct relationships with fellow tourism destinations in the Gulf region and want to help. How Can You Help? Thanks to the generosity of private tourism partners, every visit to AshevilleTourismCares.com will earn a pledge of 10 cents per visit

Video Exposes Dangerous Conditions at Exit 44 on I-40

North Carolina Department of Transportation

Image via Wikipedia

This video was posted to our Facebook page and I thought it literally hit home as I have dealt with this horribly backed up intersection many times. Watching it, it is hard to believe how long the line is to get onto the exit. Then comes the hardest part to watch: several cars who have bypassed the line altogether, simply cut into the line right at the offramp. This would REALLY tick me off if I had been waiting in that interminably long line. This is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed, but as the author of the video points out, only NC-DOT can fix it.
Several accidents have occurred due to bad drivers and a poorly designed exit near where I and my family live. I want this fixed. The Asheville Police Department and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department have told me that only the NC Department of Transportation can resolve this matter.
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