Letter: Join in to rebuild playground and forge unity

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Water leaks. Crumbling auditoriums. Homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. An understaffed police department. Tourism down. There seems to be no end to bad news in Asheville.

Take heart! There is good news!

A group of private citizens is engaged in rebuilding Jones Park on the campus of Ira B. Jones Elementary School.

Built in 1999 by volunteers and sponsored jointly by Quality Forward, the City of Asheville and Asheville City Schools, the park provided a generation of children from all over Asheville a place to play. Children from the immediate neighborhood, southern Buncombe County, day care centers, even folks passing through Asheville with kids enjoyed the playground. Sadly, the park was not maintained. In August 2021, the park was condemned and was demolished in September 2021. There was no plan to rebuild.

Angry and disappointed, folks immediately reacted. Led by David Rodgers, there began an 18-month effort to rebuild the park. David solicited over $300,000 in private donations and began working his way through city, county and school board regulations. Finally, last April, the project was approved.

Construction is scheduled to begin Oct. 4 and will be done over five days. Some 800 volunteers will be needed to staff three shifts per day over the five days. Come join in. The project motto has become: “The community builds a park; the park builds a community.”

With all the issues fragmenting our community, come join in a project that will build unity. This project is being financed with private donations and built by volunteers. You can sign up to join in at: https://bit.ly/buildpark or www.rebuildjonespark.org.

— Michael N. Lewis


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