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100+ questions about Asheville we’ll try to answer

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We were blown away last week when we asked you what you wanted to see from us. It took us 3 days to respond to each + every one of you – Over 100 in all.

These answers will help us create content you care about and reach our mission – Help Ashevillians be engaged + entertained citizens.

Without further adieu, here is what you asked (verbatim, without editing for spelling + punctuation):

* * Note: We’re adding links to articles we put together to answer your questions. Look for a green checkmark to see the answers.

As of May, 2018, we’ve answered 19 of these questions for you.

What can we help find out for you?

  • Local happy hours & local lunch specials around town.
    • Here is the list of local drink specials we put together. Lunch specials coming soon.
  • Volunteer and community involvement activities
  • History of chess in the park
  • Walking tours in town (guided and self-guided), focused on history
  • Specialty grocery markets ( meat markets, Asian markets, seafood)
  • Sources of fresh flowers, florists...
  • vintage markets for home furnishings
  • How does the ART bus work? What are the routes, rates and ridership?
  • Who has the best Italian food?
  • A list of hiking trails maybe more obscure - not the typical tourist ones
  • Maybe some historical aspects of Asheville? Something like a regular feature on the history of some aspect of Asheville, or some news coverage from decades ago ("...on this day...”).
  • Volunteer opportunities around the community on a weekly basis maybe looking 2 weeks to a month out.
  • Some weekly personal financial info would be great. (retirement, saving ideas,
  • What is happening at area colleges/universities besides UNC-A and WCU, but including them. There are exciting lectures, programs, performances at Mars Hill University; Warren Wilson College and Montreat College. Give us info on their activities and accomplishments.
  • I don’t know (and I’ve asked others who don’t know) how Fire Departments work, how paid firefighters are paid and who they report to? The County? Only in internal board?
  • Are all of Asheville’s shelters, essentially “no-kill” (excluding dangerous, fatally ill)?
  • With all this talk about affordable housing, it would be nice to see the process of landing one of the sweet new downtown apartments that are going up (I’m thinking Eagle Street or Hilliard/Clingman). Who qualifies at X above the poverty level? Where do we find the application for Mountain Housing Opportunities? Is there a loooooong wait list?

What do you want us to cover this year?

  • I would like a profile/interview once a week of a different person from around Asheville, what brought them here, their picture, what their favorite places to eat are, what things they are involved in and what they do on the weekends...it’s inspiring and gives you a sense of who is in your city . Would be awesome to include some of our homeless population all the way up to top city officials or local business owners, etc
  • Would like to see a weekly piece on non-profits in our area. What they do and how people can get involved.
    Would be great to see regular highlights on successful small biz in town especially niche’ that the community can support.
  • You asked about topics to cover. Asheville has fascinating architecture. When downtown I always look up to see the interesting tops of buildings. Why not describe the art and history of AVL buildings, say one per week as a series?
  • Provide regular coverage of the North Carolina Legislature and the people who represent us.
  • Upcoming local events - there is soooo much going on in Asheville. Would be great to have you as my one stop shop for events coming up, arts, festivals, special events, etc etc. Also volunteer opportunities, community gatherings, outreach. Bringing people together for a common cause, etc
  • Why Asheville is a challenging place to make friends. Is it because the culture is so transient? I’ve also heard women of all ages complain about singles/dating scene here.
  • Lack of racial diversity
  • Destination weddings in Asheville could be fun topic.
  • I very much want informative stories about all the candidates for 2018 City, County, and State elections. There are four Democratic candidates for County Commissioners this year and I don’t know how many Reoublucans. The primary is May 8. I’d like a thoughtful comparison of the candidates. This kind of information isn’t anywhere and with all the enthusiasm this year, we really need it! I know there are several people running Mark Meadows in the primary. We need more info in those people. Hope you can help.
    • See our 2018 municipal election guide here.
  • will there be any changes made from our city regarding development policies that seem to favor big businesses instead of the local community that made asheville into what it is today
  • Announcements of upcoming charity races, fun runs, bike events, etc
  • This area has what are known as some of the oldest mountains in the world. More information on why people say that. Are there energy vortexes here? If so, what’s that about? Why is there such a strong focus on spirituality, metaphysics and consciousness here? Please do an interview series with the City Council members, if possible. Maybe one person a week. We hear so much about what they want to do during the campaign, but now that the new guys are all settled in (Haynes, Roney, Smith), it would be nice to check back in and see if they’re standing by their word, achieving personal goals, and their take on progress in the City
  • I’d like to see a calendar (of sorts) of local Theatrical productions. Or perhaps simply a mention of what’s opening, when it ends, and the location. We have a vibrant Theatre community in Asheville and so many people don’t even know about any of it except maybe that ACT is there. For example, do you know about the Montford Park Players? They’ve been doing free Shakespeare in the Park for 45+ years, and many people in Montford don’t even know they exist. (Steve Jencks)
  • This is a mecca for artists- highlight an artist a week- their story, how they got here and a little about their art.

Want to know how something works?

  • Hickory Nut Gap
  • Interacting with the city officials, e.g., getting a bike path cleaned.
  • A petition process to express the disgusting choice of a high-end hotel across from a shelter... again... if it is even true. And if it could have any impact on changing the building outcome.
  • Would like to know more about how to find some do it yourself resources in town. For instance, have some raw cut boards that need to be plained and notched and are not sure where to take it if there are indeed resources.
  • How is Blue Ridge Southern Railroad faring in WNC? Is is successful, profitable and providing needed services to any new industries as well as the older ones such as the paper company in Canton? How many tickets are reserved/available for in person sale at venues for “sold out” shows? Orange Peel, etc.’
  • The cost to stay at Deerhaven Gardens!

What can we help you understand?

  • Current restrictions on Airbnb and other short term rentals in buncombe counties, proposals, etc, long term rental statistics
  • Road construction on 26 and how long it will take
  • Staying on top of local politics and when big decisions are about to be made and what we can do to support or reject
  • When voting is here more in-depth on how the candidates voted on key issues and more in-depth knowledge on who they really are not just through interviews with the candidates themselves.
  • Details about the upcoming interstate interchange move of the road and what impacts, where and for how long would be helpful as well.
  • How the Rosenwald School in Mars Hill--the last one of its kind in WNC--fit into the broader history of African-American education in North Carolina and the South? Who was Rosenwald
  • How are we going to ensure the infrastructure of our amazing town can handle the influx of people moving here?? How to best incorporate all the changes and not lose who we are? OUCH!
  • Odd, inconsistent zoning ordinances.
  • Why have some of the most creative, interesting people who have moved here and tried to make things work, given up and left?
  • Has there been any feedback about the new law permitting alcohol sales before noon on Sunday? I know a lot of towns jumped on the opportunity, but most only moved the needle to 10am. Just wondering if there was any data on how many towns changed their law last year and if it’s boosted sales or anything.
  • Why aren’t we building taller buildings in downtown Asheville? There’s such demand for commercial and residential real estate, that you’d think we’d be adding stories to existing sites, developing all the stupid surface parking lots (remember the Aloft site before Aloft?) Also, why don’t we see more green roofs in the City? Seems like we’d jump at becoming known for that type of thing.
  • how can small businesses survive when they are expected to pay the same rental prices on storefronts that bigger businesses pay?many of the larger companies receive tax incentives and tax breaks to open and maintain their operations, while the smaller “mom and pops” that make up the creative juice of asheville struggle to survive.

What about upcoming developments or construction you’ve seen around town?

  • What’s going on the big parking lot on Charlotte street across from City Bakery
  • Would love you to keep covering the developments with that Asheville mall proposal you covered
  • Current and upcoming road construction and expansions (details of what is being done, planned to be done, what it hopes to accomplish, expected completion dates)
  • New housing developments/apartment buildings going up or under construction
  • Details on the building going up across the street from WNC Rescue Ministries on patton ave down town? Rumor is a swanky hotel... but seriously... a swanky hotel across the street from a HOMELESS shelter? There is no way Asheville lacks that much class. Downtown Patton will become a visual to the divide in social classes.
  • How about regular updates of the River Arts District development?
  • This I love! I live in East Asheville and it booming with new growth. Can we know when something is “proposed” so we have a voice in how or community is changing ad just to be aware so we can look forward to new restaurants and happenings in the area. One big thing that I hear people talking about all the time is Real Estate - and how Ashevillians are being priced out of the market. Any help with suggestions
  • where are great little bedroom communities outside of Asheville that people may want to consider and why. Cheaper homes, land taxes but also community events help in that town and why it is an up and coming, worth looking into area - so we locals have that scope and may be able to take advantage.
  • What’s going on with all the construction/development in the Oakley/ Sayles Village area, particularly the stretch on S Tunnel rd right before it turns into the neighborhood and the road changes to Wood Ave.
  • In addition to construction, like to be kept up to date on the progress of river “greenways”, i.e. which trails were approved/funded and progress toward relocating 26.
  • From what I can see, there seems to be more focus on making the tourists happy and less focus on the residents. Eventually, Asheville will turn into another Boulder, Santa Fe or Santa Cruz--places where only the very wealthy can afford to live. These places don’t feel like real towns but more like a collective projection of what people that runs things think visitors want to see and do, a caricature rather than a real place.
    • Here’s the breakdown of what it costs to live in AVL. And, here’s more about the economic impact tourism has on Asheville.
  • How many units are going in behind Avery creek elementary and why are they going to ente and exit on Long Shoals, and are they going to widen Long Shoals
  • I am so pumped about the greenways that are getting built. It would be a good idea to keep the public abreast of new lengths (planning – design – construction – opening day!) For instance, Lucy Crown, the City’s Greenways Coordinator, is attending some north Asheville neighborhood association meetings to discuss extending the Reed Creek Greenway (from its current terminus on Magnolia to the proposed mixed use development next to Little Jumbo). Also, they’ve been burying utility lines on Hill Street between Isaac Dickson Elementary and the Visitor’s Center – I believe so they can create a nice, wide sidepath for bikes and pedestrians, but I’m not sure.

What don’t you know that you’d like us to investigate?

  • Please find out why there is no Costco in Asheville!! Or if there are any plans for one.
  • I would like to know about tribute bands, like the Lost Chord, and where they are playing. In other cities there are many such bands. Asheville is a great music city, where are they? Also, the best bands for rock, jazz and blues. Thank you! I enjoy AVLtoday...great job!
  • Why there isn’t more support for writers of plays and screenplays. I write both, but there isn’t an opportunity to meet with a group of people and work on the development of scripts. The local theaters don’t seem interested in helping people new to theater and playwriting develop scripts. If they are, it is not publicized well. Classes with the Asheville Film School cost over $500, which is a lot for many writers.
  • i would like to know when the city and the county asheville and buncombe intend to clean up the trash in the ditches,it it not a great way to have the millions of visitors who come here every year to see this beautiful area,we talk about our area in magazines on tv etc. if it keeps up it will be known as trashville,so sad that we spend so much money on hotels and we can not keep the trash picked up. (Barbara Pestinger)
  • How much does the City of Asheville spend on repairing the Splashville each year (since it is down so many times in a year. (Helen Hyatt)
  • Is the elevator at chimney rock fixed? Will it always be a joint private/public entity? Are there any times that you can get in for free?
    • The elevator is fixed, although in 2018 they’ve had some problems with land slides so check the website before you head up there. Our Chimney Rock guide here.
  • How do I found where the food trucks are on any given day?
  • What new Restaurants will be opening in Asheville by areas ( north, west, east, south, and downtown.) (Bob Perlstein)
  • Would love to see any information about important hearings by County Commission -- like, worried about traffic on Overlook, have your voice heard at the commission meeting on xx date -- or other important items to folks around Asheville. (Samantha K)
  • Will the north side of Asheville ever get a movie theatre? If so when and what area north? ( (Bob Perlstein)
  • Also, don’t forget all those informative plates on the sidewalks. So easy to overlook, but so interesting when you know they are there. But what;s the story behind them? (Maurice Frank)
  • Weird news that may not be as publicized- events, cool unknown events downtown. Also, maybe do a feature of “real people” like a random person of the month?
  • I’m concerned about the dangerous effects of Radio waves and microwaves emitted by transmitting antennas from cell phones, cell phone towers and other modern technologies. I recently began to take more notice of this when a good friend was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I realized, it was the 4th person I had some connection with that had some type of brain tumor in the last several years. In all the decades before that, I never knew a one. I know that large cell phone companies are rolling out 5G in many cities this year and more next year. Greenville, SC is one of those and I hope Asheville will not see it for a long time. I started looking into the research on RF pollution and I am becoming very concerned. I want to see open public discussion on this topic as it will effect all of us and especially young children.
  • As a second topic, I have also become alarmed about the dangers of smart meters on our homes....these two things just end up being talked about together because of their similar nature.
  • how was duke energy able to increase their rates to the consumer, while continuing to be haphazard regarding their abuse of the environment?
  • Why Asheville’s Keith Young is challenging Alma Adams for her Congressional seat and he does not live in the District he wants to represent?
  • How does affordable housing work in Asheville? What are the laws for new development? Can developers buy their way out of providing affordable units? How long do affordable units stay affordable? How might these laws effect low income families (especially children)?
  • Keep questioning city about why sidewalks on Lexington Ave just N of Hilliard Ave are non-existent to hazardous and why city refuses to do anything about this (I’ve inquired) despite the “walk-ability study” done late last year.
  • How Asheville can secede from NC, :)
  • Follow the ongoing efforts of some residents to have New Haw Creek and Old Haw Creek Rd one way adding bike lanes and sidewalks. Haw Creek Association annual meeting is Tuesday.
  • Story on the 3 citizens Academies in Asheville.
  • Follow the ongoing efforts of some residents to have New Haw Creek and Old Haw Creek Rd one way adding bike lanes and sidewalks. Haw Creek Association annual meeting is Tuesday.
  • I’d love to know more about UNCA’s plans for their property across Broadway (where the failed Momentum Science Museum was going to go). Are they simply building student housing, or what?
  • School art programs are getting cut at alarming rates despite research supporting the benefits of creativity. I would like to better understand cuts being made, and how are our local schools are dealing with cuts in the arts?
  • Have any AVL restaurants caught up with the nationwide trend of noise control. Diners are annoyed, rather than entertained when restaurants, coffee shops, etc. supply background music as part of the experience. Most people dining out are with another person and the restaurant is often a pretense for the real purpose/goal of the experience which is to get with their friend. Even if the food is the purpose, they still want to converse easily.
  • Lack of acoustic dampening due to the hard wall and floor materials as well as big open dining rooms with no partitioning at all is often bad enough. Then the misguided restaurateur adds music and the diners are left to severely frustrated attempts at something as desired and natural as pleasant conversation.
  • The cacophony also ramps up one’s stress-hormones which is the physiologic opposite of what would happen in a pleasant gastronomic experience.
  • AVL restaurants seem behind the trend in realizing this.
  • Can you rate local food/drink places on a noise annoyance scale?
  • Why I-26 is still called “Future I-26". Why the bus system is so underdeveloped and frustrating.
  • One more thing...why doesn’t Asheville have a compost pick up as part of their garbage services like Seattle does?
  • Finally, why doesn’t the Tunnel Road Whole Foods offer composting for food waste and why do they throw their recycling garbage into the regular trash? I’ve witnessed this firsthand.
  • What’s with those tall smoke stacks on the south end of Aville that spew clouds of white stuff into the air?
  • I am new to town and I love Asheville for its cool and funky vibe.
  • I would like to see some information about architectural history of homes- such unique stuff here.
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