The Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan was designed as a demonstration project for the entire French Broad River watershed. The RiverWay Plan consolidates 20 years of planning for the redevelopment of the French Broad River and the urban riverfront corridor by RiverLink. The RiverWay Plan builds and expands on The Riverfront Plan, developed by RiverLink in 1989 in cooperation with the AIA and the ASLA, which won the American Planning Association’s Large Scale Planning Award and was adopted by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County as the vision for a revitalized riverfront. In 1991, RiverLink received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop a broad spectrum of Design Guidelines for Open Space that addressed issues such as access to the river, signage, public art, landscaping, structures, support facilities and graphics. The Open Space Design Guidelines are now part of the zoning code and have guided river park and river greenway development since their inception. Other planning efforts RiverLink undertook include the master plan/construction drawings it commissioned from Edward. D. Stone, Jr. for French Broad River Park and Greenway.
RiverLink chose the urban riverfront as an initial focus area for the demonstration project since it is the most visible part of the river and represents the tax and population base for the watershed.