Pack Square park gets finishing touches with fountain, pergola

Two more key pieces have been added to Pack Square Park, the new $20 million park still under construction in the heart of downtown Asheville.

Asheville artist Hoss Haley began the installation of a stainless-steel pergola over the park's main stage last week. The structure, designed to echo the outlines of mountains on the horizon, will finish off Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage, which runs in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse and Asheville City Hall.

Park pergola: Workers began installing a stainless-steel pergola in Pack Square Park last week. Designed to echo the outlines of mountains surrounding Asheville, the pergola was created by local artist Hoss Haley. Photo by Jason Sandford

Six of 11 sections have been installed, according to Donna Clark, spokeswoman for the Pack Square Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that is overseeing park construction. When it's done, the webbed pergola will be 120 feet long. Haley, who is finishing the other pergola sections at his West Asheville studio, plans to have it finished and installed by early December, according to Clark.

The pergola is Haley's second significant artwork in the park. Haley also designed the bronze-and-stone fountain on Pack Square.

Crews have also been testing a second fountain in Pack Square Park during the past few weeks. The fountain, described as an interactive water feature, is set in front of the pergola-topped stage on what is known as Roger McGuire Green in the park.

Clark says workers are testing various programs for the fountain's "waterplay" until park officials decide on exactly what they want. On Thursday, the fountain featured arcing sprays of water in an alternating pattern that splashed plenty of water.

The fountain is named Splasheville. Clark says the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority bought the rights to name the fountain, as well as two other park features, after making three monetary gifts to the conservancy totaling $2.5 million. "We are grateful" to the TDA for its support, Clark says.

"We think it's a perfect name because it conjures up the notion of water and the nice sound a fountain makes, and because it evokes the spirit of the park and the community: fun, playfulness, and the charm of natural elements. Also, of course, it's a play on the word Asheville," Clark says.

The Spasheville fountain will be turned on from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. once it's fine-tuned, Clark says. The Pack Square fountain is on from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Both fountains will be turned off on Nov. 1 for the winter.

After years of slow progress, construction on the park has been coming together this year. The construction of the stage, the installation of a veteran's memorial and the setting of more than 25,000 square feet of sod have moved the McGuire Green section of the park toward completion. The mid-park area, which sits between Pack Square and McGuire Green, remains under construction and is the planned site of a proposed $2.4 million pavilion. The conservancy continues to raise money to build the pavilion, and the organization has said construction won't be scheduled until it has the funding.

General contractor ValleyCrest Landscape Development is overseeing the work as part of a $7.5 million contract for the bulk of remaining park construction. Construction on the park began in 2005.

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