Richmond Hill Woods City Park

This blog is dedicated to preserving Asheville, NC's largest wooded green space, Richmond Hill Park, from becoming an athletic field complex and National Guard armory. If you want to Save this wooded park WRITE, CALL or email all City Council and Parks and Recreation TODAY. TEll them you oppose the ball fields in this unique, hilly and amazing wooded park. There are better places for ball fields than in the exceptional city park.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Environmental Assessment of Richmond Hill City Park , Armory. Incomplete, dismissive and a losing proposition for the City of Asheville and Wildlife

I have received my copy of the environmental assessment form Parks and Rec. This is the document that is used assess the impact on the environment and neighborhood by the Proposed Action, which is building the Armory. Upon review of this document I found several statements disturbing regarding the environmental assessment.

While a total about 30-35 contiguous acres of this wooded park are to be cleared of trees and leveled for the joint project, about 24 acres for the ball fields, about 8 acres for the Armory, the impact assessment only covers the area where the Armory will be. Why hasn't the entire environmental impact of the project been assessed since it will impact about 20% of this unique wooded park, the earth moving aspects will occur simultaneously and are co-projects?

Section 5.13)" A cumulative impact contributes to a local or regional trend. … individually benign, impacts can combine to create Significant adverse effects especially if a large number of similar and proximate [close together] actions are initiated simultaneously "

The leveling of the armory site and the ball complex will occur simultaneously, as far as I know. The cut material from the armory will be used as fill for the ball complex.

From the Environmental Assessment
(Section 5.4) Geology and Soils, "An impact is considered Significant if the Proposed Action: alters a water way or drainage route; causes sever erosion; includes large-scale modifications (i.e., greater then standard construction grading) to topography; disturbs over 25 contiguous acres of previously undisturbed area; impacts human health or safety; compromises the ability of the Proposed Action; or substantially reduces a unique or rare resource within the region, such as prime or unique farmlands." "... the site is comprised of Prime Farmland or Statewide Important Farmlands..."

This project will have a Significant Impact on the park. That is clearly stated above.

Cumulative Effects (Section 5.13) Cumulative effects are the impacts on the environment that result from the incremental impact of an action when added to other past, present, and foreseeable future actions..."

"Cumulative impacts are expected in Smith Creek which drains the site of the Proposed Action [Armory and Ball field Complex]. The impact of the Preferred Alternative [Armory] is cumulative in the context of anticipated development in the areas to west and east of the park.

"Cumulative effects from construction of the Proposed Action [Armory] are increased: air and noise pollution, energy consumption, traffic, solid waste, loss of habitat acreage, peak storm-water runoff and sediment loading."

"...cumulative effects for the Richmond Hill district of Asheville are increased: air and noise pollution, energy consumption, traffic, solid waste generation, and peak storm-water runoff and sediment load"

In reference to the plans to have ball complex area cleared and graded "The Proposed Action [Armory], can be considered the be connected to the park's development"

The cut material form the Armory is going to help fill in the rest of the "development" zone. This means the actions and impacts would occur simultaneous, and cumulative.

Letter From: Richard R. Rust, Environmental Consultant, To EPA coordinator May, 31 2005
"The Proposed Action [Armory] would constitute Federally funded new construction..."

Here are other quotes form the Environmental Impact Assessment

The Environmental Assessment says virtually nothing about the biologically impacts of this project, in fact it appears that no real assessment ever took place.

Biological Resources (section 4.7),
Flora (4.7.1) "the site has not been classified for presence of natural communities" ,
Fauna (4.7.2) "Wildlife typical to the region's woodlands are expected to inhabit and migrate through the site. The site has not been inventoried for fauna",
Threatened and Endangered Species (4.7.3) "The site has not been inventoried for the presence of these species"

Section (5.1) Land Use "The impact is cumulative in the context of anticipated suburban development of areas to the west and east of the park..." (5.6) Biological Resources "fauna would vacate the site", "A long-term impact on wildlife would be a loss of habitat."

Future development adjacent to this park makes maintaining the entire park in a natural setting that much more important. And this is just the Armory, not the ball field complex which is about three times the size and on steeper terrain.

Asheville needs to preserve this unique and amazing park intact!


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