The rebuilding — or not — of Jones Park Playground with donated funds from the community is going to be decided by City Council June 28. The funds have been available since October 2021 to rebuild. It has been a political football between the county, Asheville City Schools and the city the past seven months. The final decision is up to City Council to provide the necessary long-term maintenance, or it will not get built.
The park functioned for decades primarily as a city park. It is on land owned by ACS. Built as a partnership between the city and ACS back in 1999 with private funds and labor from the community, the city provided maintenance for the first five years, then abandoned this, while continuing to provide maintenance of the Jones Elementary baseball field, also built in the late 1990s.
The cost of yearly maintenance of the baseball field is approximately $25,000, according to the Parks and Recreation director. City staff estimates the cost of maintaining the playground equipment at Tempie Avery Montford Center Complex in Montford at $1,500 per year in years 1-10 and $3,500-$5,000 in years 11-20. We have quotes to install this exact same equipment with the same vendor; maintenance costs should be similar.
If the city can maintain a baseball field at an annual cost of $25,000, used almost exclusively by boys paying to play in organized sports leagues, I sincerely hope we can fund the maintenance of a rebuilt Jones Park Playground, given that this is just $1,500, possibly up to $5,000 per year. The playground was used by all ages, genders and was free for folks of all socioeconomic statuses. It was a destination park used by kids from across the city.
The city has three playgrounds north of Interstate 240. There are a dozen playgrounds maintained by the city below I-240 and above I-40. It’s clear we need to leverage these donated funds from the community to quickly get this playground rebuilt for the kids of Asheville. If you are interested in lending your support, we have an online petition and more information of how to voice your support for getting Jones Park Playground rebuilt at: [avl.mx/bo8].
— David L. Rodgers