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Clean & Green Committee Meeting Notes


2023 Minutes


7 pm
Present: Storms Reback (chair), Lisa Hadley, Renate Rikkers, Marti Terry-Purdy, Linda Fornoff, Kim Heiselman, Lee Eskey, Dan Niccum, Joe Koeniger, Shannon Simpson, Christina Quetel

General Musings
: The way to get things done is to take initiative on projects. We are each empowered to do this and if a project requires funds to be raised, Storms will help facilitate getting approval from the board. We need to promote our events to the full community. For success, we need to be able to describe them in an inviting way to entice participation and volunteers. The newsletter is a great way to get information to the community and raise awareness of HCCA. Our committee agrees that they would like to see the newsletter more often. The newsletters are a great way to reach neighbors who are not on the HCCA email list.

Trash containers and bears: Only 3 percent of Buncombe County has the new bear-proof cans. There is still a waiting list and additional cost to use these. Can we ask the city to prioritize neighborhoods with higher bear populations such as Haw Creek and Town Mountain? It is important to talk to new neighbors about bear dos and don’ts, like the danger of having dogs off-leash on trails. Maybe we should do more frequent bear programming? Storms is going to reach out to BearWise and try to schedule an event for this year. They have been well-attended in the past and Haw Creek has lots of turnover of residents, so hosting one event a year seems wise. We should make materials about bears available at all of our events.

Wildfires: Shannon reported that the fire station got her in touch with Dustin Bradley, who is going to help us with a fire assessment, evacuation plans, etc. He would like to meet with 4-6 people to gather concerns. Eventually he can do a larger committee presentation. It’s our understanding that this service is free. Storms will reach out to Steve Scholl, a board member who lives in Sondley, to see if he wants to be a part of the initial focus group.

Poop Bags: There is a known problem of people leaving their poop bags on the side of the trails. Kim designed signs/flyers: “Doo Take It Home.” Marti will assist with plastic sleeves and distribution. We want to get this message out by placing the flyers in strategic locations in Haw Creek and via social media. In a related issue there is interest in doing future education studying the water quality of Haw Creek (the creek, not the entire area).

Treasured Trees: Storms got Steve Scholl to sign up with his 200+ year old Chestnut Oak. Several committee members are working on getting additional trees certified. The goal is to gather 10-12 certified trees and coordinate a stroll or trail for people to view them.

Entrance Landscaping: It has been a huge hit with lots of compliments. Is there an appetite to continue the landscaping further and make the area park-like? There are already wild milkweed and day lilies in the area. We can prune around those and keep what’s good. There’s a signup sheet for the watering schedule. It’s full through July 8. We will look at the options of mulch vs. fibrous cloth to stop erosion and aid in watering.

Future meetings: Storms will aim to schedule future meetings on the last Tuesday of each month at 7 pm for consistency.

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Present: Storms Reback (chair), Lisa Hadley, Renate Rikkers, Marti Terry-Purdy, Michelle Decker, Linda Fornoff, Kim Heiselman, Elizabeth Matthews, Lee Eskey, Dan Niccum, and Scott Clodfelter

Entrance landscaping project: Storms said the project is now complete. If the budget allows and if we can get the property owner’s permission, there was some discussion about expanding the landscaped area and adding more plants later. Michelle will be creating a watering schedule spreadsheet and sharing it with committee members so they can sign up for watering the plants through October. We’ll be using Dan’s large cat litter containers to bring water from home or using five-gallon buckets to scoop it out of the creek.

Treasured Tree Program: Rick Fornoff has been talking about this idea for a while. He has one tree on his property that has received this distinction. Storms asked each committee member to locate a tree in Haw Creek (on their property or a neighbor’s) that might deserve such an honor and email him the location and owner’s name. Size, age, and uniqueness are all critical factors. Once we have identified 12 such trees and gotten them honored by the Treasured Trees Program, we can create a calendar highlighting these trees and sell it to raise funds for HCCA and host a treasured tree stroll, so Haw Creek residents can see them and appreciate them.

Haw Creek Garden Stroll: In a similar vein, Renate would like to find gardeners who have particularly beautiful gardens and would like to share these spaces with others. A garden stroll could be tied in with the treasured tree stroll or an art studio stroll.

Greg Rogers: Renate mentioned that Greg Rogers was a Haw Creek resident beekeeper and that we should highlight him somehow and educate residents about pollinator plants. There was a suggestion to do a pollinator garden/bee presentation next Earth Day.

Plastic Reduction: What can we do to get rid of single-use plastic bags? There are presently new pushes (Sierra Club, Mountain True) that are trying to ban single-use bags. Hopefully we can influence representatives in Raleigh to ban them. Because the ban has been denied due to the efforts of two large companies (Walmart and Ingles), we discussed organizing a protest outside of Ingles’ headquarters in Black Mountain and inviting the press.

Dog poop bags: Neighbors are leaving their poop bags alongside the roads in Haw Creek. Kim is going to start a campaign to remind residents to pick up their dog poop bags. We could mention it in the newsletter, put it on Haw Creek social media, place a note inside the kiosk at Masters Park, and possibly make yard signs that rotate around streets as the problem occurs.

Preserving Open Space: The 767 New Haw Creek development has made us aware that we need to begin looking ahead at ways to educate Haw Creek residents who have large parcels of land that, unless they preserve it, will get developed and ruin the character of the valley. What steps can landowners take to preserve this open space? Because such conversations are delicate, we should consider having one-on-one conversations with individual landowners.

Overgrown intersections: Renate has tried reaching out to DOT about overgrown shrubs blocking the view of oncoming traffic at major intersections in Haw Creek to no avail. She is going to submit a letter to the board for approval that could be given to property owners asking them to help cut their shrubbery on their property in order to help with this problem.  

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Present: Storms Reback (chair), Chris Pelly, Lisa Hadley, Renate Rikkers, Marti Terry-Purdy, Bruce Michael, Susan Michael, Michelle Decker, Linda Fornoff, Kim Heiselman, Christina Quetel, Joe Koeniger, Shannon Simpson

Haw Creek Hustle 5k
•    We are still in need of manpower and financial support.
•    At least 60 more registrants are needed. 41 currently registered.
•    Encourage Haw Creek to come out and cheer.
•    Will contact Charlie Bullman park for use of the bathroom and kitchen.
•    Will get flyers to Evergreen Charter School. Chris has a contact there.

Haw Creek Entrance Project
•    Storms and Joe have already dug the ditch in preparation for the installation of the stone wall. The wall will serve as a raised bed for plants.
•    2 pallets of stone will be dropped off on Friday afternoon.
•    Volunteers can meet at 9am on Saturday at the Haw Creek entrance to haul rocks across the street. Bring gloves, wheelbarrows, and dollies. We will have safety vests.
•    Storms will work on building the wall.

Greenway Update
•    Grant documents will be submitted to the county on 3/26/24. We don't expect a final answer from them until July/August. The final approval is from the county commissioners.
•    After approval, invasive plants will be removed. Then the Clean & Green committee can work on planting natives, habitat restoration, erosion control plan, and general aesthetics.
•    Thoughts for future projects: creating a pollinator garden, finding donors for park benches, bluebird-house-making event.
•    Planting will be overseen by master-planter Dan Niccum. $5,000 has been budgeted for the purchase of plants. We can also engage with GreenWorks and other free plant programs as well as procuring clippings of natives from residents.
•    Is there any way to involve school children who need volunteer hours?

Wildfire Evacuation Plan
•    Shannon shared resources from Marin, CA (Fire Safe Marin website contains more information).
•    Storms and Shannon have reached out to the Asheville Fire Dept about evacuation plans and have not gotten responses.
•    Ideas
o    Map the trail systems from the valley to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Town Mountain Road.
o    Plan a community fire drill.
o    Write a letter detailing our concerns to the City Council to get wildfire risk and preparedness on their radar. Urge them to set up a meeting with AFD to plan a drill (Shannon to draft).
o    Become a FireWise community.

Earth Day Event
•    Meet on the morning of 4/21/24 for a clean-up at the entrance of Haw Creek.
•    Renate will reach out to a kudzu education organization to plan something for the summer.

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Present: Storms Reback (chair), Chris Pelly, Lisa Hadley, Renate Rikkers, Elizabeth Matthews, Dan Niccum, Doug Baughman, Marti Terry-Purdy

Storms discussed the second phase of the project to beautify the Crockett Avenue entrance to the neighborhood. The plan is to build a stone wall in front of the sign that will serve as a raised bed. We will use Tennessee stacking stones to build the wall. We will also improve the soil by getting four yards of good dirt delivered. The prep work (digging out the dirt where the stones will go) will require several volunteers as will the placing of the stones. Dan Niccum, who is a master gardener, will be in charge of ordering plants that are native and won’t require much if any watering to get established. Storms will let Dan know the square footage of the bed and the budget for the plants. Storms applied for a neighborhood grant from the City to pay for this project and is waiting to hear whether we need to choose between this project and the bridge by Creekside Taphouse. The goal is to complete this project before summer arrives.

Marti talked about litter pick-up in the neighborhood. She has been doing this singlehandedly and insists that it’s not too bad. But she did relay a story about a homeless encampment alongside the creek, where she found roughly 20 used needles. She called the police, who responded by giving the “campers” five days to leave. Once they were gone Marti cleaned up the site by herself. Most of the people present at this meeting volunteered to pick up litter in various spots around Haw Creek. Marti shared some of the litter grabbers and trash bags she has.

Chris gave an update on the Haw Creek Park Greenway project. Our campaign to raise money garnered $10,790 in donations. We also received a $5,000 grant from Connect Buncombe. Hopefully this will be enough to convince Buncombe County to contribute the rest of the money needed to complete the project. If we get the large grant needed we will be on track to complete the greenway by the end of the year.

Renate talked about the need to reduce the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Haw Creek and shared an article (“Make America Rake Again”) that explained why. Many of those in attendance shared stories about the benefits of using electric-powered tools. The problem, we decided, was that it would be difficult to convince commercial outfits to agree to do this.

Storms expressed the need for the HCCA to devise an evacuation plan in conjunction with the fire department in case there’s a wildfire in Haw Creek. He plans to call the fire department and see if there is currently anything in place. If not, he’s going to work with them to create one. One of the goals would be to stage a mock evacuation to see how smoothly (or poorly) it would go. The ultimate goal is to become a FireWise Community.

We also talked about our desire to protect some of our Treasured Trees. Greenworks used to host this program but they are starting to phase it out. The hope is that we’ll be able to create something similar on our own. Rick Fornoff has expressed interest in leading the charge on this.

For upcoming events, we’re hoping to organize a clean-up of Haw Creek Park on Sunday April 21 to celebrate Earth Day.

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