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Leaders also share proposed changes to campus signs
With help from students and residents of the neighboring Montford community, UNC Asheville hopes to build a portion of city greenway that could give students a safer, less busy walking route to downtown.
John Pierce, vice chancellor for finance and campus operations, told neighbors during a community meeting held on campus Monday that the university’s proposed Reed Creek Greenway — a .15-mile stretch along Broadway Street from Catawba Street to Weaver Boulevard — would tie into the existing Glenn’s Creek Greenway than runs along Broadway to downtown Asheville. Stitching the two greenways together would give students a less-trafficked route to downtown than walking along Broadway’s sidewalks, Pierce said.
“Our students are really passionate” about the project, Pierce said. Last year they voted to increase their yearly fees by $10 to raise money for the greenway extension, he said.
The Montford Neighborhood Association has raised and contributed $12,000 for the extension, according to Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink, a public-private partnership to reclaim and develop Asheville’s riverfronts. UNCA has been approved to apply for a $200,000 state parks and recreation grant to develop the Reed Creek Greenway, Pierce said. Other funding has been proposed to come from the UNCA Foundation and the city of Asheville, he said.
The proposed Reed Creek Greenway, located on part of the 8.9-acre property that the UNCA Foundation bought from The Health Adventure, would follow the creek through the property before tying into the Glenn’s Creek Greenway at Catawba Street.
The Health Adventure had planned the greenway extension to go along Broadway, but residents who met with the university last January proposed it be located along Reed Creek. That’s what UNCA wanted as well, Pierce said.
“It’s an absolutely gorgeous spot,” he said, one that zigs and zags toward and away from Broadway before descending beneath the street and running along the edge of the university’s botanical gardens to the French Broad River.
Design work due this spring will determine how much the project will cost, Pierce said. If UNCA gets the state grant, construction could begin this fall and be completed in four or five months, he said.
Consultant: Sign changes could allay confusion
Also during a community meeting held on campus Monday, university leaders explained to neighbors a proposed exterior signage system meant to better define the school’s boundaries.
The proposed signs will make it easier to find and get around campus, Rob Nelson, a consultant helping develop the university’s new master plan, told some three dozen people at UNCA’s Sherrill Center.
“Now, we get people wandering around in their cars looking for UNCA,” he said. “We don’t have perimeter signs or very clear vehicular signs.”
Nelson, a former chief financial officer for the UNC system, updated neighbors on the university’s “wayfinding and signage” project that uses campus-wide fonts and colors. If the university’s board of trustees and the city of Asheville approve the proposed signs, they will replace signage that Nelson said is “confusing” and “not consistent.”
The new batch of signs, designed by the Asheville architectural firm Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, include 10 monument signs (signs with stone foundations at university gateways) and dozens of pole banners that will better define the campus’s perimeter. Also included are parking lot and building signs, vehicular and pedestrian kiosks and traffic directional signs
To the few residents of the Montford, Mount Clare, Five Points and Jackson Park neighborhoods who attended, Nelson said the signage would not direct people to UNCA through Edgewood Road, a residential thoroughfare that serves as a backdoor in and out of campus. Rather, the signage would direct traffic to and from Broadway and Merrimon Avenue, he said.
Though Nelson said light pollution concerns prompted planners not to include lighting for the signs, Montford resident Steve Norman challenged Nelson on environmental concerns. Having a large number of banners, many near UNCA’s botanical gardens, seems at odds with a university that considers itself environmentally conscious, he said.
According to a press release from the university, UNC Asheville will finalize its signage and way-finding plan and submit the plan for approval by Asheville City Council.