A sinkhole, not of our making, has devastated our lives. We do not want it to ruin a bird sanctuary that so many enjoy.
On June 20, 2019, a sinkhole developed on our commercial property located at 1010 Merrimon Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina. This sinkhole, which eventually grew to 36 feet wide and 30 feet deep, caused soil to be carried downstream to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary sediment pond. We immediately tried to stabilize the sinkhole and mitigate any further damage. The civil engineer recommended to the contractor on the project to fill the hole with granite screenings which is finely ground granite that is coarser and more compactible than regular sand. Four days later it rained, and 436 tons of screenings were dumped into the Sanctuary's sediment pond. They next filled the hole with riprap rock which is rock traditionally used to control erosion. However, the damage had unfortunately been done to the sediment pond.
Efforts to work with the City of Asheville and the State of North Carolina to address the damage have been unsuccessful, even though all the storm water from the 300-acre North Asheville watershed runs through our one-third acre lot. Meetings with the Asheville Mayor and senior staff and the NC Department of Transportation management were to no avail, and both refused any responsibility for the repair. We also attempted to make a claim through our insurance company, but that claim was denied. As a result, all repair work has been done at personal expense. The total cost of the project ran $500,000 over the initial bid and we had to finally walk away from trying to save the property. We have lost over $300,000 in cash. The property is currently in the process of foreclosure which will result in a loss to us of an additional $650,000 in cash equity. We are both in our mid-seventies and this was to be a major part of our retirement.
However, the wetlands can still be saved. In addition to serving as an area for the public to stroll along the boardwalk and observe the many resident and migratory birds, the wetlands serve as an environmental eco filter, pulling heavy metals and other pollutants out of the storm water before it reaches Beaver Lake. The sediment from the washouts need to be removed from the wetlands to restore it to its pristine state. The bids received to remove all the sediment, replace 200 wetland plants, and repair the walking trail total $46,785. The Blue Ridge Audubon Society has generously kickstarted the fundraiser with a $6,000 contribution, and we are trying to raise the balance of $40,785 through GoFundMe.
Thank you in advance to all our friends and family and other donors for your generous support of this project.
Bill & Nancy Gatewood