News release from the City of Asheville:
City of Asheville officials cite community safety; Upcoming comprehensive parks and recreation plan will inform future investments
City of Asheville officials today announced that the outdoor pool in Malvern Hills Park will not open this summer. During the pool’s 2023 inspection, Buncombe County Environmental Health inspectors recommended Asheville Parks and Recreation (APR) staff proactively assess and address maintenance needs that could impact community safety in future years. While the APR aquatics professionals were able to safely keep the facility operational through last summer using short-term fixes, the pool can no longer be repaired.
A 2015-2016 professional assessment of the 90 year-old pool concluded it “has seen its life use” and recommended “not to put more money in the current pool.” More recently, multiple contractors indicated there is a high probability that with any significant repairs or even general maintenance, additional issues with existing infrastructure integrity are likely to be found which would trigger even greater investments in order for the pool to meet current codes. The pool has required reinspections during each of the two previous operating seasons as antiquated filter drain covers and pumps have been retrofitted to meet new operating standards for public pools.
“Given the conclusions of the assessment, the uncertainty that a minimum investment of $400,000 will allow the pool to open, and the recent contractor input that repairs are likely to uncover additional issues with existing infrastructure integrity, staff regrettably recommends keeping the pool closed for the 2024 pool season,” according to D. Tyrell McGirt, APR Director. “Community safety is the most influential component of this difficult recommendation.”
As part of the larger APR system, the forthcoming community-created parks and recreation comprehensive plan, Recreate Asheville: Shaping Our City’s Parks, will inform future investments in Malvern Hills Park and aquatics facilities in the city. Development of the plan is currently entering its second phase of engagement with additional public feedback opportunities in March to help rank community priorities. The completed plan is scheduled for presentation to City Council for acceptance in June 2024.
Recognizing safe recreation opportunities are essential to community health and safety, APR staff are in communication with the most affected neighborhoods, allowing time for residents to develop alternate recreation plans for the summer. APR operates two other public pools in the city at Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center and Recreation Park, as well as the free splash pad Splasheville in Pack Square Park. Buncombe County Parks & Recreation’s five outdoor pools are located throughout the county.
Malvern Hills Park has served as a summer day camp site in the past. Other day camp locations nearby at Burton Street and Grant Southside community centers will accommodate additional campers through reallocation of staff, ensuring the same number of local kids and teens are supported by APR’s high-quality affordable summer camp program.
Malvern Hills Park opened as Horney Heights Park in 1922. Construction on the pool began in 1934 and was completed the next year using federal New Deal funding. City officials formally dedicated the park, pool, and bathhouse to the community on June 15, 1936.