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.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thoughts about the open house, 3/23/06

I would like to thank everyone, those who came out to see the plans for the park and those who were unable to but would have liked to. I would also like to thank parks and recreation for sponsoring the event. I came away from the meeting with a good feeling. I think that we were able to voice our concerns about neighborhood traffic, the impact on the environment and the vision of the future development of our city and its greenspaces.

Asheville City government adopted plans for developed in 1989 that place athletic fields along riverside as part of the greenway link and riverfront redevelopment. It is also part of the Wilmia Dykeman plan. Check it out on Riverlink's home page its about 1/2 way down the page.

Asheville has no other park like Richmond Hill Park, and its worth SAVING

The forest of Richmond Hill Park when connected with the greenway will help Asheville shine as a city with smart growth, and give all of us a city that is livable and that we can be proud of.

We have furthered our relationship with parks and recreation and look forward to working with them on alternative locations for fields and the development of Richmond Hill park.

Ball fields located along Riverside Drive will provide better and safer access for North Asheville Little League players, further the Greenway project, and increase green space in the city while helping with flood control and bettering the environment.

As a city we are growing rapidly and we must protect our most unique places, and now is the to do so! Richmond Hill Park is no exception, as the city's largest forested park it provides unique recreational and educationally opportunities and is an asset the city. This park benefits city residents, visitors and local businesses.

It is important to keep this issue in the public's vision .

Please write letters to the editors of the local papers and contact city officials. Stay positive, we are working to build the Asheville we want to become, but it takes a strong vision and hard work.

I am confident that we can provide ball fields for North Asheville Little League while protecting this irreplaceable city treasure.

I believe that we are on the right path and making progress.

Tell the larger public how this park honors the vision of the future development of our city and its most unique green spaces.

Please take the time to look over the whole blogsite, December - present

Sign the petition and read the comments at
the petition site

Thank you for your time and energy
James Wood

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Running cedar and ferns are the nominate ground cover in many places in the park. These plants are sensitive to foot traffic, and provide a lush evergreen carpet for all park users to enjoy. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006

New mailing list, Stay Informed about the Park

Join Save Richmond Hill Park's mailing list. Get meeting times, updates on the park and website. This is the best way to stay informed about the fate of an irreplaceable treasure of Asheville. Turning this unique and amazing wooded park in flat athletic fields is not in the city's or the environments best interest.

Stay informed and Help Save this City Treasure, for Asheville, wildlife and future generations!

Send emails to :

There are better places for these fields!

Parks and Recreation lauch their own web site

Parks and Recreation just launched their own website. They do their best to sugar coat the 1/4 million cubic yards of soil (which is HUGE) they will have to move and the 30+ acres of wooded park that will be cleared and leveled, lost forever. But they can't hide the fact that there are better places for flat ball fields.

Asheville Parks and Recreation, Richmond Hill

We are working on identify alternative locations that are more suitable for such fields, and the funding opportunities that are available from state and federal agencies, such as FEMA.

Look at the time line; Approval of Timber Sale BEFORE the Environmental Assessment, how does that work? I always though you had to find out what to protect, then develop your plans around that!

Also the armory shown on their map is not quite the full truth. Plans submitted by the armory (2/24/06) have an addition 7,500 sq/ ft "Field Maintenance Shop" located in the "Tree save area on their map" planed for future construction. This makes the impact look much smaller than it is, just like the way that they split the plans between the armory and the ball complex. They only tell you one little bit at a time making their plans look more benign than they really are, masking the real impact that they will have on the environment and the neighborhood.

The ball fields now have 200 parking spaces, up from the 140, and while it looks like a smaller impact on their map, the disturbance zone is still 20-25 acres, plus the armory.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Upcomming Meeting about the Richmond Hill Park

Monday, March 20 at 2:oopm at City Hall : Technical Review Committee

This meeting is to review the changes that were made to the armory, by the armory, to the plans that were approved by city council in 2003. Please come and voice concerns over the current plans for
Richmond Hill Park, and the location of National Guard Armory in the cities most unique park. Support Richmond Hill residents in protecting their neighborhood from dangerous and disruptive increases in traffic caused by these shortsighted plans.

Thursday, March 23,
5-8pm at the Buncombe County School Administrative Building at 175 Bingham Road
Come voice you concerns and comment on the Parks and Recreations plans to gut
Richmond Hill Park. These plans will cause irreparable damage to the city's most unique and exceptional park! These effects on the city's largest forest will be severe! Help protect this amazing city park from these shortsighted plans.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Link to SAVE Richmond Hill Park Petition


Please sign the petition, and send it to someone else who thinks that it is important to SAVE ASHEVILLE's LARGEST and MOST UNIQUE CITY PARK

These woods are amazing and irreplaceable, don' t let Asheville waste this city Treasure.

The view from one of the many trails in this exceptional city park. Posted by Picasa

Asheville's most unique City Park. Irreplaceable and a treasure of the City of Asheville. Posted by Picasa

One of the many large white oaks in this park. This one, like othes, is in the cut and fill zone. Posted by Picasa

In the last few nights the spotted salamanders of Richmond Hill Park have come out to lay eggs masses. These salamanders burrow in the ground during the day, and after the right spring rain, they mate. The male lays a spermatphore on the ground and the female chooses one, picks it up, and with it fertilizes her eggs.
Picture from Posted by Picasa


How can you get help save Asheville largest park?

1.) Look over this whole Blog, there a lot here
2.) Write city council, the city manager, parks and recreation, the mayor (info below), also tell your neighbor
2.) Write letter to local papers, Asheville Citizen Times, Mountain Express, and any other papers saying you support the vision of Asheville keeping this irreplaceable wooded park intact and in a natural state.
3.) You support park development that works with the landscape, recreation activities already on site, and wildlife.
4.) You think Ashville can find a better place for Ball fields for North Asheville Little League
5.) The current plans will create severe traffic problems for the residents of Richmond Hill
6.) A large wooded park like this is good for local businesses and tourism
7.) Everyone needs a place to go take a quiet walk in the woods

The sun set next to the French Broad River in Richmond Hill Park

These cranefly orchids leaves will die in the summer and be replaced with a stalk with a "twisted" flower. Posted by Picasa

When these wildflowers bloom they will have pretty, fragrant flowers. Posted by Picasa

Old white oak tree that is in the cut and fill zone. This tree is likey well over 100 years old. Posted by Picasa

Asheville Citizen-Time Guest Commentary (Tuesday 3-14-06)

One of Asheville’s irreplaceable treasures is in jeopardy. At 183 acres Richmond Hill Park is Asheville’s largest wooded green space. The strength of this park is its size, with an extensive network of multi-use trails, gurgling creeks and springs, large trees and abundant wildlife.

Mature hardwoods, 100 to 200-plus-year-old white oaks, hickories, tulip poplars, sycamores, red and silver maples, red oaks, plus a rich understory of flowering and silky dogwood, eastern hemlocks, American beech, American hollies, sourwoods and black gums provide an escape from summer’s heat and beauty year around.

The groundcover is equally diverse and beautiful, with cranefly orchids, pink lady slipper and other wildflowers, running cedar, mosses, ferns, rhododendron, flame azaleas, mountain laurel, hearts a’bursting and more.

The extensive wetland complexes provide habitat for salamanders, frogs and turtles of tremendous variety. This park houses a rare type of seasonal wetland habitat that is critical for many amphibian species, with only 5 percent to 10 percent of these seasonal wetlands remaining in the Southern Appalachians.

The mixed hardwood/evergreen canopy provides a diverse and important habitat for birds including: eastern bluebirds, warblers, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys, woodcocks, migratory neotropical songbirds and numerous other species.

They all utilize this important continuous track of woods for food, shelter and/or breeding. Smith Creek and the French Broad River provide an important water source for wildlife as well as a scenic view for park visitors. The relaxing gurgle of a mountain stream can cut through the worst tensions of modern life.

This park already supports a diverse and rapidly growing number of users including disc golfers, mountain bikers, hikers, joggers, dog walkers, serenity seekers, naturalists and birdwatchers. This park is perfectly suited for low-impact outdoor activities, and the popularity of these woods is growing rapidly as word spreads. This park is used by hundreds of city residents and visitors each week and is the perfect setting for educational opportunities, giving our children a chance to learn from what we have protected.

Today this park is truly a valuable jewel in the crown of Asheville. City officials underestimate the value and popularity of this park to city residents and visitors. The park is now slated to have 20 percent, or 30-35 acres, cleared and leveled for four ball fields, one soccer field, concessions building and a 140-car parking lot, along with a new National Guard Armory. Also, the entrance to this ball complex will be through the quiet neighborhood of Richmond Hill, adding noise, pollution and peril to the neighborhoods’ children and residents as hundreds of extra cars come whizzing through.

I don’t oppose baseball, but it’s not difficult to see that this is simply not the place for ball fields. The impact will be severe and irreversible. Destroying such a large part of this unique and beautiful park is not in the city’s or the environment’s best interest. Parks and Recreation Department officials say that they will install storm water retention and other Best Management Practices (BMPs) to mitigate the increased runoff and erosion, but BMPs are a sorry substitute for conservation. While they say that the current uses of the park will continue, current park users will be relegated to a park drastically reduced in size and quality.

More appropriate places for ball fields are in areas already cleared, open or along the floodplain. Parks and Recreation could also work with schools in north Asheville to maintain and increase the availability existing baseball fields. If the city commits to finding an appropriate location for new fields, no one has to lose out in this situation. It doesn’t make sense for the city to destroy valuable green space when it is trying to create green space within the city. What would New York City be without Central Park?

In Asheville we are seeing our natural areas and scenic views developed at an astounding rate.

Please join with me, local conservation groups, small businesses and the hundreds of other city residents in supporting a vision for Asheville that honors the need to keep this unique and amazing park wooded and intact.

Please visit www.Richmond for trail maps, dates for public meetings, Web links; a petition and more information about this exceptional city park. I am asking you to tell City Council, Parks and Recreation and the city manager that it is important to preserve such an amazing city treasure intact, so the City of Asheville has this wooded park that it can be proud of.

James Wood is a student at UNC Asheville majoring in environmental science and biology. A resident of the Richmond Hill area of Asheville, he is a frequent park user. He has lived in Asheville for six years.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Armory Changes Plans and Traffic Flow, more impact on Neighborhood

The plans for the new National Guard armory in Richmond Hill neighborhood have changed from that of what was presented to the Asheville City Council in 2003. Now the main and only entrance to the Armory is set for placement at the end of Richmond Hill Drive, instead of having an access to the armory through Richmond Hill Road. This new plan will in effect have a larger impact on the neighborhood as ALL PARK AND ARMORY TRAFFIC WILL HAVE TO TRAVEL THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF NEIGHBORHOOD.

It appears that residents of this neighborhood have not been notified of this change in plans for the development, but the city’s Technical Review Committee is scheduled to meet about this project’s final plans on Monday, March 20. The new plans were submitted to the Asheville Parks and Recreation Dept. on Feb. 24. I received my requested copy of the new plans last week, and today is the 17th so time is running out!

We feel that the neighborhood has a right to publicly voice their concerns and comments about these new plans in a public forum, in front of city council and city officials, before these plans are approved by the TRC.

Tonight until 3/20 we are working on informing the neighborhood and attempting to halt the TRC’s currently scheduled review of this project in favor of a public comment session with city council and officials.

<>The Final Environmental Assessment of Asheville Armed Forces Reserve Center and Maintenance Shop, 11 July 2005states on page 10-11, section 4.2 " The ordinance specifies.... improvements of the intersection of Richmond Hill Drive and Pearson Bridge; side walks and traffic calming measures (e.g. speed bumps or traffic islands on Richmond Hill Drive)." These aspects need to be addressed before construction begins as (page 10 section 4.2) "use of the roads by medium and heavy trucks during construction" is underway.

We use Richmond Hill Drive as our neighborhood’s primary road. This road is used frequently by pedestrians; residents who push stroller walk pets, and park cars along the curb. The neighborhood children ride their bikes in the street; employees of the Baptist retirement home and the senior citizens who live there walk the road for exercise on their lunch break or as part of a healthy lifestyle.

We need appropriate traffic calming measures and sidewalks before our neighborhood road is used by large and medium sized truck. When they begin logging and clearing trees for the armory, the neighborhood residents, pedestrians, and bike rides would like to avoid being hit by a logging truck in our own neighborhood!

Please join us in the fight to protect the neighborhood, and protect their right for a legitimate public comment session on a project that has the potential to have many negative and regrettable impacts on a quiet and safe Asheville neighborhood

Monday, March 13, 2006

Pictures of the ball field complex and the new entrance to the Armory. The area to be cleared for JUST the fields is ~125o feet X 925 feet. And the joint project will require the moving of about 1/4 million cubic yards of earth (estimate from Parks and Rec.), to fill in the valleys and cut the ridges level. This Park is an irreplaceable treasure of Asheville and these plans are a waste of the Asheville's most unique city Park.
Scale 1" = 200' Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Armory Changes Plans

On Feb. 26, 2006 the National Guard Armory submitted final plans for review by Technical Review Committee. This Armory has changed the design of their buildings and the access point.

Instead of armory personnel accessing the armory mainly through Richmond Hill Road, now ALL TRAFFIC (armory, ball complex, disc golfers, and all trail users) WILL TRAVEL THE FULL LENGTH OF RICHMOND HILL DRIVE, and armory personnel will double back (at about the clay flat at hole 16) and head back parallel to Richmond Hill Drive to reach the armory (current disc golf location).

These plans will increase the amount of traffic traveling through the full length of the neighborhood. Adding noise, air, and light pollution to the neighborhood, and adding risk to neighborhood residents.

Here are the new plans: (problems with host site, will post soon)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Marble Salamanders

We found marble salamanders larvae within the park. This is exciting because this is the second record of them in Buncombe Co., and about the 4th-5th for the Blue Ridge.

Also the wood frogs have been breeding, and on a warm sunny day you may hear them "clacking".

This park has something that no other park in Asheville has. Because this park is relatively large it can, and likely does support higher biodiversity. Clearing out the center of this park for ball fields and an Armory will not only reduce its physical size, but the climate inside the park will also change. This is called edge effect, and has negative effects of habitat, biodiversity and aesthetic value. This will negatively impact amphibian, bird, and plant species found within the park, as well as the uniqueness of the park.

The main reason that a small strip of trees between houses, or along a road is so different that "deep woods" is edge effect, decreased humidity, increased winds, increased temperature variation, increased UV penetration, increased bird nest predation, increased exotic invasive species, decreased biodiversity. Edge effect extends hundreds of feet past the tree line, and the larger the clearing infront, generally the more severe the edge effect. This project calls for 30-35 acres of clearing for the fields and Armory, which is Significant.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Do you want to save Richmond Hill Park, Asheville's Largest Wooded Green Space?

Here’s your chance to help!

Below is a list (though certainly not exhaustive) of talking points you can use if you choose to call or email the mayor, city council members, parks and recreation, etc. regarding the “development” plans at Richmond Hill Park. The list is meant to give you ideas, but your call/ email will be most effective if you express your concerns in your own words. Calling/emailing these decision-makers is one of the most effective ways to have your voice heard, so please contact them to express your concerns today

Mayor Terry Bellamy: (828) 259-5600

City council member Robin Cape: (828) 216-4009

City council member Jan Davis: (828) 253-5634

City council member Bryan Freeborn: (828) 251-2176

Vice Mayor/City council Holly Jones: (828) 281-4804

City council member Dr. Carl Mumpower: (828) 252-8390

City council member Brownie Newman: (828) 243-0107

Parks and Rec. director Irby Brinson: (828) 259-5808

Parks Landscape architect: Seth Hendler: (828) 259-5508

Parks and Rec. Jim Orr: (828)259-5800

City Manager Gary Jackson:

-Introduce yourself to the person you are calling. Let them know if you are a tax-paying citizen of the city of Asheville. If you are not, you can let them know your connection to the city and the park, and why you care about this issue.

-Express your concern over the proposed development at Richmond Hill Park for some or all of the following reasons (or any others that you may have):

-Richmond Hill Park is Asheville’s largest wooded green space. At 183 acres, this forest is a unique, valuable, and irreplaceable element of Asheville’s city park system. No other park in Asheville provides city residents with the same outdoor recreation, nature and wildlife experiences as Richmond Hill Park. If this park is “developed” according to the proposed plan, the city of Asheville and its residents will lose forever much of the uniqueness and value of the site, qualities that make it an outdoor sanctuary for the people to enjoy. This goes counter to the heart and soul of the residents of the city, and the image that makes Asheville so attractive to residents and visitors alike

-The park is perfectly suited for low-impact outdoor recreation and nature appreciation. There is no better publicly owned place in the city to walk on wooded trails, mountain bike, walk your dogs, go bird watching, or take nature walks and appreciate wildlife. This is an experience that is unique to Richmond Hill Park among Asheville’s parks, and it should be preserved for these purposes. If the “development” occurs as planned, the outdoor experience will be greatly diminished, and the remaining forest will be ecologically poorer than it currently is. The increased "Edge Effect" will increase exotic invasive species establishment within the park, decreasing biodiversity, and wildlife habitat quality. This is why the edge of a forest looks and is different than the “deep Woods”.

-The site is a poor choice for both ball fields and an armory. The terrain at the site is very hilly and wooded, which will require large amounts of forest to be clear-cut, and then extensive heavy grading and leveling. 20% or 30-35 contiguous acres of the park are slated to be cleared and developed. In the process, many plants and animals will be killed, and erosion and sedimentation will severely degrade the quality of the streams found on the property. To treat the land at the site in this manner is to waste its’ intrinsic value, and to create irreparable damage to the park and landscape. We should instead restore an already degraded and cleared/leveled landscape for the creation of ball-fields/armory, and/or use the ones that have already been built more efficiently.

I agree that it is important to have ball fields, but this is not the place for them!

-There are a number of rare and area-sensitive species that live in the park. By reducing the park by 20% of its size, many of these species will be lost. A thorough count and catalogue of the species currently living in the park should be taken before any “development” takes place, as it is possible some threatened and endangered species may live there. Any environmental assessment should examine both the Armory and Ball field Complex jointly. Anything less is not a true assessment of the impact on the park!

-The project will create high traffic volume in the currently quiet and safe neighborhood. This poses obvious threats to pedestrians and pets, but will also lead to more localized congestion, increased air, noise and light pollution.

After you have voiced your concerns, thank them for their time and for hearing you. Let them know this is an extremely important issue to you, and that you will be monitoring it closely.

You can further express your opposition to the “development” at Richmond Hill by signing a petition asking city officials to stop this project. Sign the Petition at:

Thanks for your support in helping to protect Asheville’s largest wooded green space for people, wildlife and future generations. Every voice counts, make sure they hear Yours!