The 5.33-acre tract of land in the French Broad Park corridor was acquired by RiverLink in 2005. The property had previously been operated as an auto junkyard over a span of 50 years, and has since been remediated to the state of an open space, fenced property. The tract is located adjacent to the French Broad River on the south and is bounded by Amboy Road on the north. A concrete sidewalk was installed on the Amboy Road edge, and there is a drainage way called Moore’s Branch located on the western boundary, separating the subject tract from Carrier Park and its concrete trail system.
Because of her role in the revitalization of the urban corridor along the French Broad River, the RiverLink Board of Directors designated the park “Karen Cragnolin Park” in recognition of what was then her 25th anniversary as Executive Director. Karen retired in August 2016, but continues to be a source of inspiration for our community. It is her bold vision that is beginning to transform Asheville’s Riverfront into a nationally-recognized destination for recreation, the arts and culture, and thriving businesses that depend on clean water. RiverLink is at a closing point in the process of getting a brownfields certification from the state for the subject property, and is ready to receive community and stakeholder input on the desired park land uses for the 5.33-acre park tract within the French Broad River Park.
On behalf of the RiverLink Board of Directors and Staff, we are excited to announce the next step in the transformation of the EDACO Junkyard into the Karen Cragnolin Park with the selection of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW) as the design firm to lead the planning process to create the master plan. NBW is an internationally-recognized design firm and will assist in carrying forward Karen Cragnolin’s audacious vision to connect the missing link of parks along Amboy Road.
NBW, alongside local collaborators, will lead a robust public engagement process to receive input on design features that the community would like to see incorporated into the park. A final design proposal and Master Plan will be completed by late 2018 and is expected to be approved by the RiverLink Board of Directors in early 2019.
Asheville-based members of the Design Team include Landscape Architects Equinox Environmental, Samsel Architects, and Civil Engineers Anchor QEA.
The RiverLink Board of Directors very wisely made the decision to name the former EDACO Junkyard Site Karen Cragnolin Park at what was then Karen’s 25th Anniversary as the Executive Director. She ultimately served 30 years as our leader, but this park is the living manifestation of Karen’s 30 years of work and vision by transforming what was the “missing link” between two earlier parks created by RiverLink, the French Broad River Park, and Carrier Park.
Karen had the unique ability to see a diamond in the rough in that this site could someday be part of the series of parks along Amboy Road and an extension of the Wilma Dykeman Riverway Plan. Most of us simply saw the eyesore that was an auto salvage yard where a car crusher operated for more than 50 years. The fact that 100,000 tons of concrete covered the property at the time of purchase further emphasizes her contribution.
The creation of design concepts that will ultimately lead to the creation of a Karen Cragnolin Park Master Plan is an amazing opportunity for all of us to celebrate the history and transformation of a forgotten and damaged plot of land along an ancient River that will move from Junkyard to Public Park and to honor a visionary and pivotal figure in Karen Cragnolin.