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.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Article from the UNCA Blue Banner

Students develop plan to save park

By Kristen Marshall - Staff Writer

Forest

SHANNA ARNEY - STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

James Wood, senior environmental science student, lives in the neighborhood surrounding Richmond Hill Park. Wood has developed a plan to save the 30 to 35 acre park that the city plans to build a National Guard Armory, three baseball fields and a soccer field

Richmond Hill Park is a 183-acre natural forest with hiking and mountain biking trails and a disc golf course. City plans threaten to destroy the balance created by Asheville’s largest wooded green space.

“Our city has a real deficit of natural areas as parks,” said James Wood, senior environmental science student. “What we’re trying to do is provide a better vision for future development in our city.”

Wood, who lives in the neighborhood surrounded by the park, heads up the group to develop new plans that won’t destroy 30 to 35 acres of the park. Currently, the city plans to build a National Guard Armory, three baseball fields and a soccer field in the park, which means clear cutting and leveling the trees and hills.

Wood wants to locate the baseball fields along Riverside Drive as part of the French Broad Greenway Project, which turns all of the riverfront property into parks and green space.

“We’re trying to put the ball field development alongside the river so that the players can get their fields and the city can preserve its largest urban forest,” Wood said.

There are currently 14 parks in Asheville with ball fields, according to the Asheville Parks and Recreational Department.

“To make a baseball field, it requires that they clear cut this huge area of forest and park that can co-exist with nature,” said Max Hartford, freshman student. “We have enough baseball fields.”

The Richmond Hill Park is most commonly known to students as the park with the disc golf course.

“It’s a really fun course,” said Nathan Watkins, junior management student. “It’s easy to navigate if you’ve never been there, and the park is really beautiful.”

Richmond Hill Park offers more than just disc golf, with a wide array of activities, including hiking, jogging, bird watching and mountain biking, most of which Wood himself participates in.

“I live in the neighborhood that will become the main entrance to the park,” Wood said. “One of the biggest problems is that the city has never really told people about this park, and the only people who really know about it are the disc golfers, and most of them didn’t even know the park extends down to the French Broad River.”

Forest

SHANNA ARNEY - STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Wood and his team along with other local environmental organizations continue to literally fight city hall, pushing for new development plans that will cause less of an impact.

“There’s no guarantee that the construction won’t have environmental impacts. It will. You can’t get around it,” Wood said. “Clearing part of the forest will effect climate and humidity and introduce invasive exotic species. There’s a lot of environmental stuff that’s sort of complicated that goes along with it.”

The main goal is to keep the park natural and to accommodate everyone’s needs, according to Wood.

“If we can address the need for baseball fields in a way that is already planned out by the city and really benefits the city, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Wood said.

As the city continues to grow, green space will always be a causality. Wood wants to ensure the longevity of the park because he knows how important it is to the economy and ecology.

“This park is unique and irreplaceable and an asset to the city,” Wood said. “Our city simply doesn’t have another place that offers the same recreational or environmental opportunities as this park does. It’s a whole nature experience with a really diverse ecology. It’s a great park, and we don’t have another place like it.”

To find out more about Richmond Hill Park meet James Wood on the Breezeway on April 20 at 4:30 for a hike.

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