During its regular meeting on December 14, Asheville City Council approved the annexation and initial zoning district designation of RS-2 (Residential Single Family Low Density District) of a 10.88-acre property planned for a City park in south Asheville. Guided by Council’s goal of a well-planned and livable community, this voluntary annexation is consistent with the Living Asheville Plan’s vision to support non-residential development compatible with surrounding neighborhoods that enhances opportunities for future residential infill and promotes access to well-maintained parks and open spaces for all who live in the city. The annexation passed unanimously.
Located near multiple residential communities that are located within city limits, the continuous tract of wooded land is bound by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sweeten Creek Road, Sgro Athletic Complex, and a railroad right-of-way. The City of Asheville purchased the undeveloped property from Carolina Day School for $1.5 million in September using bond money from a 2016 referendum approved by voters (of which $2 million was allocated for park land acquisition). The purchase price is $200,000 below its Buncombe County tax assessed value of $1.74 million.
“South Asheville is one of the fastest-growing areas of our city, but community members who live there have access to fewer parks than those in the rest of the city,” according to Peggy Rowe, Interim Director of Asheville Parks & Recreation. “This exciting opportunity was made possible by parks and recreation team members working to identify undeveloped land close to single-family and high-density residential areas to provide more equitable and accessible parks, recreation, and active living opportunities. Parks drive critical wellness, economic, and sustainability benefits to the people of Asheville. With the transformational power to connect communities, this park will foster resiliency and build civic pride.”
Future enhancements on the property may include parking and passive recreation amenities such as walking trails and areas for picnicking, bird watching, and nature bathing. These decisions and park naming will be determined through a public engagement process expected to take place in 2022. Moderate hiking paths already exist that connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
In addition to development of the park, Asheville Parks & Recreation and Carolina Day School previously announced they are advancing a partnership to allow the use of Sgro Athletic Complex for community recreation when school athletics are not in session. Fields within the complex adjacent to the planned park will support the City’s need for additional space for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and other outdoor field sports. This opportunity will also allow the community to benefit from Carolina Day School’s plans to improve these fields through conversion of grass surface to turf to increase durability and new lighting to extend use during evening hours.
“We want to be good citizens and are thrilled to be entering this partnership, offering space for our community for athletics and recreation,” said Stephanie Whitney, head of school for Carolina Day School. “Sgro Athletic Complex is an exceptional athletic facility, but it’s underutilized for much of the year. We want to maximize the property for the benefit of an area of the city that has been underserved by the existence of athletic fields, and in doing so, make a meaningful difference in the lives of our Asheville neighbors. Partnering with Asheville Parks & Recreation was a natural choice because of their proven track record of working with diverse communities throughout the City to provide equitable programming. We’re excited to be launching a partnership that will be so beneficial for everyone.”
About Asheville Parks & Recreation
Established in 1954, the Asheville Parks & Recreation Department manages a unique collection of more than 55 public parks, playgrounds, and open spaces throughout the city in a system that also includes full-complex recreation centers, swimming pools, Asheville Municipal Golf Course, WNC Nature Center, Riverside Cemetery, sports fields and courts, and community centers that offer a variety of wellness-, education-, and culture-related programs for Ashevillians of all ages. With 8 miles of paved greenways and numerous natural surface trails, its complete portfolio acts as the foundation of a vibrant hub for the people of Asheville to connect with their neighbors and explore the natural beauty of a livable and walkable city.
With an annual budget of nearly $13.3 million, the department has 117 full-time staff and over 100 temporary/seasonal team members. Driven by the promise that Asheville is a better and safer place when everyone from infants to retirees has the opportunity to be supported, healthy, and successful, Asheville Parks & Recreation was the first nationally-accredited municipal recreation department in the United States.
About Carolina Day School
Carolina Day School (CDS) is an independent, secular day school for grades PK–12 and includes the Key School, a national leader in providing a high-quality, innovative education for bright children with dyslexia. CDS is situated in the heart of George Vanderbilt’s lush forest, on land donated to the School by his descendants. The School’s academic campus is located at 1345 Hendersonville Road in Asheville, with the School’s Sgro Athletic Complex being located at 2351 Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville. For more visit carolinaday.org.