“History is not the past. History is the present,” Black writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin once said. “We carry our history with us.”
That sentiment may be present Tuesday, Oct. 25 when members of Asheville City Council weigh a piece of Asheville’s Black history during a public hearing to consider designating the nearly 75-year-old Walton Street Pool and Poolhouse as a local historic landmark.
According to a presentation available before the meeting, the city received an application from the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County asking that the park and facilities be designated a Local Historic Landmark in February. From April through September, city staff worked with local nonprofit Southside Rising, whose aim is to promote and restore the historic Black neighborhood of Southside, by conducting surveys and holding community events, meetings and one-on-one discussions with residents. Through that work, the city determined that a majority of participants support the park’s historic designation.
The facility, located at 570 Walton St., was also identified as a potential historic resource through the African American Heritage Research Survey, a study that aimed to assess historic buildings, objects, districts and other sites within Asheville’s historically Black neighborhoods.
The Local Landmark designation, which is managed by the Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe County in collaboration with Asheville’s Planning and Urban Design Department, would “recognize and honor” the facility as contributing to Asheville’s history and ensure that “the historic character of the park and pool are retained.” If approved, the park would join 49 Local Landmarks in Buncombe County, 42 of which are located within the city limits.
The Walton Street Pool could also receive National Register of Historic Places designation, pending a formal nomination from the city. According to the city’s project page, the designation is “primarily honorific in nature” but could also offer protections from future development. That decision is managed by the National Park Service.
In other news
Council will also conduct a public hearing to consider implementation of Close the GAP, a multi-year effort to consolidate the current Greenway Master Plan, Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan and the Pedestrian Master Plan, to improve accessibility on Asheville’s public greenways and rights-of-way.
City Manager Debra Campbell will also provide updates on the city’s First Quarter fiscal year 2023 Financial Report, the African American Heritage Resource Survey and the Burton Street Architectural Survey during the Manager’s Report. No additional information was provided ahead of the meeting.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Campbell to execute a $127,170 contract with ECS Southeast, LLP for road inspection, design and repair after heavy rains in July caused slope failures along Bent Tree and Crestwood Roads in North Asheville.
- A resolution authorizing Cambell to amend the general service contract with Everbridge, Inc. for the city’s Emergency Notification System, to allow residents to be informed, based on their location, of important information, such as boil-water advisories, through text, phone message, and/or email. The proposed five-year contract will cost the city $32,544.75 per year, for a total cost of $162,723, representing a 5% annual increase over previous years.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to accept $400,000 in grant funding from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for an agreement with CDM Smith for a study of and improvements to the North Fork and William DeBruhl water treatment plants. The study will help identify improvements needed to meet Environmental Protection Agency and N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality rules and regulations amid changes in raw water quality.
Council members will gather in their chambers Oct. 25 on the second floor of City Hall, located at 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 4417.
Those who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted. Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4417; written comments can be sent to ashevillecitycounciloct252022@PublicInput.com until 9 a.m. Oct. 25. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.