Welcome to Z-Link! Taking back Asheville’s sidewalks one shovelful at a time.

Some of Asheville’s neighborhoods have wonderful sidewalks. Older areas, developed in the heyday of Asheville’s trolley system, were designed with walkers in mind. In the new era of raised environmental awareness, a national childhood asthma epidemic and expensive gasoline, more and more of us are rethinking our local travel options. Walking and biking are obvious choices.

A common problem with older sidewalks is that poor maintenance has resulted in accumulation of dirt and debris, followed by weeds and exacerbated by the encroachment of shrubs. The City sidewalk ordinance requires that property owners keep public sidewalks across their property clear, but enforcement is a low priority and there are some folks who are physically unable to perform the work. Then too, vacant lots often go untended for years. There are many places where perfectly good walks extend for blocks, only to be obstructed in one short section, rendering them impassable for wheel chairs, baby strollers or those with ambulatory disabilities.
Join Z-Link actions in your neighborhood or start your own! We’ll be posting a calendar under “Upcoming Events” on this site as they are scheduled.

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Next Z-Link Cleanup, April 2!

We’ll join forces with Americorps volunteers on Saturday, April 2, at 9 a.m.

We’ll meet at the Emma Family Resource Center at 37 Brickyard road, 28806, directly behind Emma Elementary at 9am.

We will have coffee and pastries from West End Bakery at 9am. Around noon we will have pizza and burritos from around town for all the volunteers.

Bring a shovel (flat blade is best), hoe, rake or other implement and gloves if you can.
See you there!

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City-Wide Sidewalk Cleanup: Sat. Nov. 20

Asheville City Council revised our sidewalk regulations at the Oct. 26 session. While it has always been the case that property owners are responsible for maintenance of public sidewalks that cross their property, the new rule has teeth. Failure to keep sidewalks clear of debris, weeds, shrubs, snow and ice will result in warnings and then fines.

To spur public awareness of the new rules, and to encourage everyone to get with the program, we’ve scheduled a city-wide cleanup day. Join your neighbors, make new friends, get some exercise, and get ‘em clean! For those who are unable to clean their own sections, due to disability, contact us to arrange for volunteer help.

Click here to learn where people will be gathering, if you’d rather join a group than work alone.

If the weather is bad on Nov. 20, participate in our Virtual Sidewalk Cleanup, by reporting bad stretches in your neighborhood, so we can contact the owners or arrange for volunteer work.

While we’re clearing existing sidewalks, let’s not forget our neighbors and friends who don’t have sidewalks. (Video) If you notice there’s no sidewalk at all where one is needed, photograph that and send it to us. Again, be sure to specify the location and we’ll pass the the information along.

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Five+ months of work

Since last May we have cleaned sidewalks on all but three Saturdays and have reclaimed more than a mile of pedestrian walkways.

Thanks to many volunteers from Montford, about half the work has been in that neighborhood. We’ve worked on Blake, Cumberland, Elizabeth Place, Soco and Starnes. The toughest stretch was the long ignored sidewalk from the corner of Clingman and Patton to the Hillcrest pedestrian bridge and the stairway to Chicken Hill. We also tackled a relatively new sidewalk on New Haw Creek Rd. and another on nearby Avon Rd.

Nearly 50 volunteers have joined us over these months and we hope we have spurred a renewed sense of volunteerism and community responsibility in at least a small segment of Asheville’s residents. Sadly we have been pretty much ignored by the media. (The Asheville Citizen-Times did a short piece, but only on their Web site—bad news seems to sell more papers than good.)

Our work will continue. Check Upcoming Events on Fridays for the next day’s targets.

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Soco St. in Montford, August 14

Here’s a short video of last week’s effort.

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Montford on July 31

After we put in four Saturdays on the Patton Ave. sidewalk, we returned to neighborhood work last Saturday. Half a dozen folks helped clear a stretch along Cumberland, across from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Altogether we’ve now had about 30 volunteers at one time or another. Thanks to all!

For a YouTube video of the clean-up, click here.

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Manual work wrapped up on July 17

We did about all we can reasonably do without heavier equipment. The sidewalk is very passable. At the Public Safety Committee meeting on July 20 we received reports from the Transit department, police department and comments from citizens. City Council will consider the issue of reopening the bridge at its August 24 meeting.

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Fifth time out: Close to finished—Patton Ave. sidewalk

On July 10 we had eight volunteers working all morning. The Hillcrest bridge entrance is fully clear now and the sidewalk is in great shape for 2/3 of the way to the intersection of Clingman and Patton. Still some dirt on the path and grass to whack along the edges, so we’ll wrap it up on July 17.

Here are some photos from worker-bee Bill Rhodes.

And a blog entry from worker-bee Cindy Kunst.

Thanks once again to everyone out there helping to reclaim Asheville’s sidewalk system!

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