Important Message to the Community in Regards to the Expansion Project

asheville community yoga logo

2015 Expansion Project: 
What It Means For Our Community and For Neighbors of Asheville Community Yoga

By now, many of you are aware of our plans and vision for growth and expansion this year. We have heard from so many of you expressing excitement and support for the new opportunities the expansion project will create, and we would like to address a few legitimate concerns that have been raised during our conversations.

Some of you may have received a thoughtful pamphlet on your car, a personal message from Shawn Terrell, or may have been approached by one of the neighborhood tenants expressing these concerns.

This post explains our need to expand, outlines our plan and vision for the expansion, and addresses concerns voiced by a few community and neighborhood members.

1. Classroom Space and Education:

The expansion project is in the works due to community demand. The project is not simply the vision of one man or even a team of directors, staff, board members and teachers, but rather a demand from the larger community. We have outgrown our space.

Not only are our public donation-based classes near capacity, our teacher trainings, workshops and series classes are as well. The above-mentioned offerings represent paid programming that contribute to the financial support of the center, which in turn allows thousands of local people to gain the benefits of yoga at a price they choose and can afford. These programs also financially support local teachers who give so freely of themselves by volunteering to teach the donation classes for free.

The expansion project includes the creation of a studio classroom larger than the two we currently have. The fuller classes will be held in this space, allowing more people to join as well as more individual space for each person in the room. The newly created space will also house our teacher trainings, immersions, workshops and series classes. This space will create more opportunities for students who wish to dig deeper into their yoga through specialized paid programming. It also contributes to the local economy by creating financial support for local teachers (we have more than 50!) and the center at large, ensuring that we will never have to go to a “minimum fee” policy in regards to the donation classes.

2. Restrooms and Community Space:

We currently have three restrooms supporting the demands of thousands of practitioners. Need we say more? The new space will include a large women’s room with four stalls, sinks, countertops and mirrors where women can take care of their business and have the space to clean up after class before heading on to their next engagement. In addition to the women’s room, two more individual restrooms will be created.

With the current restroom lines spilling out into our lobbies, it’s a challenge to find a quiet spot to have a private conversation. The restroom lines will no longer take community space and we plan to add more areas where one-on-one connections can be made before and after class. We will also have a third lobby space furnished with comfortable seating, and a small café/library space where community members can enjoy sweet company or quiet time alone before heading back out into the world.

3. Parking:

Parking has been an obstacle at the center since its inception. Over the years, we have found ways of rising to the challenge created by the parking situation. We currently have three gravel lots in addition to the few spaces we have in the paved lot next to our building.  With the help of volunteers willing to spend hours each week directing traffic, we have managed to keep the parking organized and safe. However, the current situation is not sustainable and can no longer handle the demand of our growing community.

In addition, the Town of Woodfin and Asheville Community Yoga are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of our practitioners walking along and crossing over Brookdale Road. The Town of Woodfin would like to see all of our parking on the same side of the street as the center. Brookdale Road is a short cut to Interstate 26 for many North Asheville residents.  Traffic moves quickly and consistently up and down this road all day long. While the Town of Woodfin would love to supply us with a cross walk and caution lights, Brookdale is a state maintained road and getting these provisions from the State of North Carolina is a long and lengthy process. We have been told by Woodfin Town Administrator Jason Young that the chances of getting a cross walk are slim to none. Until we find a solution to this concern, please take extra caution when crossing or walking along Brookdale Road.

Another parking concern is that we currently rent all of our parking space and some of the land we rent is for sale. Given Asheville’s growth and our location right off of the interstate on commercial land, the land could easily be bought by a major corporation at any moment. Can you imagine a fast food restaurant or a gas station right next to the center?

We have short-term goals for meeting our immediate parking needs and a long-term vision that will ensure the land surrounding us remains community friendly and supportive of the residents living on it.

First, with the upcoming purchase of our building at 8 Brookdale Road, we will own 40 to 45 spaces next to and directly behind the center. While this will reduce the amount of rented parking space and cut down on the number of people crossing Brookdale Road, it is still not enough to meet the community’s demands.

For a little while longer, we will have to continue to rent land to park on. Our intention is to rent the land behind the center so eventually no one will have to cross or walk along Brookdale Road to get to yoga classes, which will both keep our students safe and fulfill the Town of Woodfin’s request.

In time, with the support of grants and the expansion’s new program funding, we intend to buy the land behind the building. When this final long-term goal is met, Asheville Community Yoga will become even more financially sustainable, no longer paying rent but instead investing in mortgages that will ensure our existence for generations to come. In addition, we will preserve the land and neighborhood surrounding the center, protecting it from any major corporate development.

The initial stage of our obtaining the land behind the building does come with some legitimate concerns. Two residents currently share this open space. While our expansion would not infringe on any of the property they rent month to month, it will affect some of the surrounding open space they enjoy. These residents are concerned about the eyesore a parking lot would create as well as the lot’s proximity to their gardens.

We are very sensitive to our neighbors’ concerns, and in light of that, we have proposed building a privacy fence around the parking lot. This fence would be made out of materials that are known for their ability to absorb pollutants, keeping their gardens safe. We would plant trees along their side of the fence and even add a gate so they will have easy access to the studio for classes! We’ve also discussed and are committed to creating a community garden on the land so the yoga community and neighborhood at large have a green space to enjoy.

Another concern local residents share is the increased traffic that will be created on a small side street. Initially, driving access to the new lot will be located on Valley Park Road. In time, and hopefully a very short time, we will have the means to gain access to and from the lot through our current paved lot next to the building, creating no additional traffic on side streets and through the neighborhood. We’ve spoken to the resident who owns the home located at the entrance to the parking lot and they are in support of our community’s growth and expansion.

It is understandable that even with the provisions and measures we are more than happy to make, some residents remain resistant. We are grateful that all parties involved are committed to staying open and receptive to peaceful conversation and dialog, working together to find a solution.

We offered neighbors an opportunity to express their voice on the subject through our newsletter. Here is what they want the community to know and the actions they would like to see taken:

Written Statement by Neighbors of Asheville Community Yoga

The neighbors in this community want to bring awareness to those who utilize services at Asheville Community Yoga.  Their concerns with the proposed parking lot in the field directly behind the studio relate to issues of pollution, traffic safety, and overall quality of life.  The neighborhood wants people to realize the true effects of “paving paradise” – it not only would prove to be an eyesore but would also introduce pollution from Asheville Community Yoga vehicles to the residents’ existing food sources.  They are concerned with polluting effects of gravel dust in the growing seasons.  With additional parking in this area residents are also concerned with a major influx of traffic coming up and down daily on the narrow street on Valley Park Rd.

In an effort to find positive alternatives to the persistent parking challenges, the neighborhood collective encourages all who attend Asheville Community Yoga to consciously work together on this issue.  As suggested in the recent pamphlet, there are a number of solutions to the problem.  First, a reduction in vehicles coming to the studio can help tremendously, only possible if carpooling and other green methods of transit are used during busy class times.  Also, fully utilizing the church parking lot, brand new corner lot, and fenced in lot which will be acquired in the future expansion, when it’s permissible to do so can help.  Due to Woodfin’s inability to provide a safety crosswalk and/or street light on Brookdale Rd. since it is a state-owned street, it is encouraged for all to plead for an exception by sending email petitions to town officials. Woodfin does have the ability to request the state to make needed changes in order to maintain safety.  Students are also encouraged to be flexible in attending a variety of classes at Asheville Community Yoga offered by other exceptional teachers, so as to help dissolve the concentration of vehicles at certain times.

Together we can help save this precious green space and in turn transform it into an even more beneficial place for all.  By preserving what we have behind the studio, we can share in the beauty of the possibilities.  This small community asks that we envision this space not as a parking lot for 25 + cars with a privacy fence, but a gravel free, green space that can be used for a higher purpose:  A shared food source for residents and students, a meditative space with butterfly and bee flower gardens, and even a sweat lodge to use after yoga class.  This peace of mind is not possible by developing the area for vehicle use.  Together we can practice the values of contentment, compassion, sustainability, and awareness to make a huge difference not only in this small neighborhood but beyond…..

Together we can do amazing things for the world we live in!

 Carpooling Service:
Share the Ride NC https://www.sharetheridenc.org/public/home.aspx
“This website will help you quickly and securely find carpool partners anywhere in North Carolina! Using your home and school or work addresses, you will be matched to nearby commuters with similar schedules. Your home address will never appear on match lists.”

Woodfin Town Officials
Mayor: M. Jerry VeHaun (828.253.4887)
Town Administrator: Jason Young   (jasonyoung@woodfin-nc.gov)
“Interested citizens are encouraged to attend the Board’s regularly monthly meetings to offer advice, support, criticism, or encouragement to the Board on any issue facing the Town.”

 Signed,

Neighbors of Asheville Community Yoga

There it is: the need, the plan and the concerns around our community’s expansion. We’d love to hear your point of view on the matter, specifically in regards to the land behind the center. Those of you who attend regularly are well aware that we have always encouraged carpooling, fully utilize all our existing parking space and constantly suggest students try other classes to reduce traffic congestion. Knowing this information while considering safety and the Town of Woodfin’s request, what other options do we have? We look forward to hearing any other ideas you can bring and exploring all available options in hopes of finding a resolution that is pleasing and in the best interest of our yoga community and its valued neighbors.

We couldn’t agree with our neighbors’ words more: “Together we can do amazing things for the world we live in.” If you’ve been in to practice with us, you know that we as a community are doing amazing things every single day! We are grateful for your continued support to keep the practice and benefits of yoga accessible to all!