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City wins grant to study connecting Oklawaha, Ecusta trails

The city of Hendersonville will use a $77,250 from NCDOT to study the feasibility of a multimodal path connecting the Ecusta Trail and Oklawaha Greenway.

The city has also been awarded $3,418,165 in grant money that will help reduce flood risk and restore floodplains in Hendersonville’s southside and continue the development of a comprehensive stormwater master plan.

'Above the Mud' Grant

“By working with the French Broad River MPO, Land of Sky Regional Council, and community stakeholders, we obtained a grant to study the feasibility of connecting the Oklawaha Greenway with the Ecusta Trail,” said City Manager John Connet. “City Engineer Brent Detwiler has championed this grant application and the funding that will allow us to take the next step in planning this important connection.”

The grant will examine the feasibility of a new multi-modal path that connects the two longest multi-use paths in Henderson County — the Oklawaha Greenway and the Ecusta Trail, which is expected to break ground later this year. At the core of the “Above the Mud” project is the goal to complete a robust and reliable multimodal network connecting communities along several trail, greenway and sidewalk projects. Currently, there's a gap between the Ecusta trailhead, which will be around the meeting of King, Church and South Main streets, and the Oklawaha Greenway, which begins at Jackson Park.

Stormwater grants

“We are thrilled with the projects being tackled by our Stormwater Division and the grants obtained to fund them,” Connet said. “Mike Huffman has developed goals to improve our community, and he and other staff sought out the grant opportunities to make them a reality. These projects would not be within reach without his leadership and dedication.”

The Stormwater Division is part of the City’s Engineering Department and consists of Stormwater Division Manager Michael Huffman and Stormwater Technician Dustin Moffitt.

Hendersonville’s Stormwater Management Program works to preserve, protect, and restore the quality of water in the streams, rivers, and lakes within the city. The program was developed in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) to ensure that stormwater is effectively controlled to reduce pollution generated from stormwater runoff. To support the stormwater program goals, stormwater staff frequently pursue grants to implement projects that would otherwise not be possible with funding generated by stormwater utility fees.

In 2023, the following stormwater grants have been awarded:

  • Mud Creek Flood Risk Reduction - North Carolina Land and Water Fund - $1,120,929. This project proposes land acquisition and the optimization of flood routing on the southern side of Hendersonville’s downtown. The project will take advantage of available storage at multiple flood stages, with a particular focus on high-frequency flood events on Mud Creek and its tributaries. Steps will be taken to expand the available flood storage areas beyond the frequently overrun channels created by historic berm construction.
  • Mud Creek Floodplain Restoration - North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure Local Assistance for Stormwater Infrastructure Investments (LASII) Construction Grant- $1,897,236. The proposed project will complete final design, permitting and construction activities for 2,359 linear feet of first-order stream restoration, 1,556 feet of streambank restoration along Mud Creek, 8.5 acres of wetland restoration, and an additional 9.2 acres of riparian floodplain restoration to provide ecological enhancement and stormwater treatment. The NCLWF Flood Risk Reduction grant will fund the implementation of complimentary flood reduction activities and additional land acquisition to further improve climate resiliency and stormwater management in the flood-prone and impaired Mud Creek and Johnson Ditch watersheds.
  • Stormwater Master Plan – North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure Local Assistance for Stormwater Infrastructure Investments Planning Grant - $400,000. The Comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP) will provide the City of Hendersonville with a 5-year Stormwater Capital Improvement Plan to implement high-priority stormwater projects in a systematic and cost-effective manner. In addition, the SWMP will be complemented by the development of a Strategic Asset Management Plan that will assist in structuring operations and maintenance around key performance indicators.

In 2022, Hendersonville was awarded $405,000 in grant funding for water quality improvement projects, including $310,000 to restore Brooklyn Creek in Sullivan Park, $70,000 for a rainwater harvesting system and permeable pavers at the new Fire Station 1 and $25,000 is for water quality planning. In 2020, the city received $150,000 for the Seventh Avenue Streetscape project for green infrastructure like bioswales and landscaping to absorb and filter stormwater runoff from the 7th Avenue District.