Growing with the Community
Students, faculty and staff join campus neighbors to beautify nearby land
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, one that would have made Mr. Rogers smile.
More than 150 UNC Asheville students and staff, residents from the Montford area and other nearby neighborhoods spent a recent spring Saturday morning sprucing up a site purchased earlier this year by the UNC Asheville Foundation. The property at 525 Broadway was the site of an unsuccessful children’s science museum that filed for bankruptcy in March 2011.
The 8.9-acre site, which had become overgrown and neglected, was purchased by the foundation through a gift/purchase arrangement with T.D. Bank.
Although UNC Asheville does not have immediate plans to develop the land, the university has begun work to stabilize the infrastructure on the property, clearing invasive plants and undergrowth, moving and replacing construction fencing, completing the extensive set of retaining walls and removing graffiti.
The Saturday work day, a part of the Student Affairs’ Greenfest celebration, brought students and members of the university’s Facilities Management staff together with community members. About 200 small trees and shrubs were planted to create a green and growing buffer along the property’s perimeter on Catawba Street and Cumberland Avenue in the Montford neighborhood.
This has been a terrific day, one that really demonstrates what our students, staff, and community can accomplish when working in partnership.”
– John Pierce, Vice Chancellor for Finance & Operations
Joe Newman, a Montford Neighborhood Association member said, “It’s hard to believe how much difference a day’s worth of community work made on the site. It really looks wonderful. Those of us who volunteered from Montford had a great time planting, mulching, seeing neighbors and meeting UNC Asheville folks. The Community Work Day was a big success.”
Volunteers picked up work gloves and shovels as they checked in and then began digging holes and tucking plants into the turned soil. The group moved fast, putting in sugar maples, hemlocks, dogwoods, serviceberry, redbuds, rhododendrons, holly, Southern magnolias and more in just two hours. Then the university’s front-end loaders began circulating up and down Catawba and Cumberland, hauling more than 100 cubic yards of mulch that volunteers spread as each section of the planting was completed.
Those not engaged in the planting headed to Reed Creek, located at the heart of the property, and spent several calorie-burning hours grubbing out the roots of invasive species that had been trimmed to the ground earlier in the week.
“It is so encouraging to see the care that UNC Asheville is giving to the property, from repairing the fencing, to clearing the weeds and trash, to adding plants and mulch,” added Wanda Newman, treasurer of the Montford Neighborhood Association. We didn’t expect to see improvements so quickly. This was more than anyone expected to happen this soon.”
John Pierce, UNC Asheville’s vice chancellor for finance and operations said, “This has been a terrific day, one that really demonstrates what our students, staff, and community can accomplish when working in partnership.”
Pierce and other university personnel are coordinating with the City of Asheville, RiverLink, and the Montford community to finalize plans for a new portion of the greenway that will be built on the property along Reed Creek. The overall use of the property will be determined through UNC Asheville’s ongoing master planning process, in consultation with the City of Asheville and the Montford neighborhood.