The story below is an excerpt from our Sept./Oct. 2014 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Karen Cragnolin: “Yes, it is weird to have a park named after you, especially when it’s still not realized as a park or greenway.”
Karen Cragnolin is active in civic affairs around Asheville and is executive director of Riverlink, which under her leadership purchased carrier park in 1999 and dedicated French Broad River Park in 1994.
In today’s world, developing a park in a former industrial area in the heart of a city requires a lot more than a master plan and plantings. Especially when the land was a junkyard for over 50 years and is covered in an eight-foot-deep concrete cap. That is just what RiverLink encountered when it bought the old EDACO junkyard on Amboy Road in Asheville, N.C., now known as Karen Cragnolin Park.
And yes, it is weird to have a park named after you, especially when it’s still not realized as a park or greenway.
RiverLink worked hard and was lucky to find D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company, which volunteered to help recycle the 100,000 tons of concrete into asphalt. We were anxious to keep the concrete out of the landfill and not to incur the costs involved – estimated at $4 – $6 million!
Once we got rid of the concrete we could start testing the soil and found that we had Volatile Organic Compounds in the soil (VOCs) – gas, grease, and diesel – just what you would expect to find from a long-time junkyard. In order to clean up the site and not move the dirt and not create any bio-hazardous waste, RiverLink partnered with Research Triangle International and Dr. Ari Ferro, a renowned specialist in reclaiming contaminated lands, and used the latest technology, called phytoremediation, or as I like to say, using Mother Nature to heal Mother Nature. It was such an exciting idea the project attracted stimulus money through the EPA, private donations and foundation funds along with a grant from the National Council of Garden Clubs.