Until recently, the Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR) asset management team was spread across multiple outdated, overcrowded facilities. Now, most operations have been consolidated into a single 2.6-acre campus with 18,456 square feet of office and warehouse space on Thompson Street.
Efficient Essential Services
Asset management is key to day-to-day operations of Asheville’s public parks system with staff overseeing maintenance and repairs, painting, mowing, landscaping, and trades work such as plumbing, electrical, and mechanical tasks. They help ensure exceptional experiences for park visitors and community members attending programs held in parks, pools, and community centers.
“We’ve been able to increase efficiency and cost savings, as well as reduce Asheville Parks & Recreation’s carbon footprint and commute times,” according to John Shaw, APR Program & Operations Manager – Assets. “Having a fairly centralized location for all our employees has cut down on the amount of added trips to gather needed equipment and supplies from multiple locations. We have also been able to rethink some of our maintenance routes and find what is the most efficient schedule to get our tasks performed in a timely manner.”
Under One Roof
In addition to public parks and community centers, APR’s asset management division also oversees several parking lots and public plazas throughout the city. With a staff so skilled at groundskeeping and landscape management, they are often asked to take charge of other properties.
“With the larger space, we are able to bring all our employees except Riverside Cemetery staff into one building, allowing us to be more consistent with the services we provide to the public,” Shaw adds. “We are also now able to secure our equipment and make all of our machinery more accessible to all of our employees.”
Planning for the move started more than a year ago. At that time, the asset management division was primarily housed at two locations, one in Recreation Park and another adjacent to Mountainside Park on Hunt Hill Place. City Council’s lease approval for the new facility on Thompson Street allows both facilities to be repurposed for recreational and community development purposes.
The new campus was purchased by City of Asheville and North Carolina Department of Transportation in 2005 to support future implementation of a multi-modal transportation and passenger rail station. It faces the Swannanoa River on the front with an active Norfolk Southern Railroad line along the rear of the property. The facility’s roof was recently replaced in exchange for rent credit and to increase the building’s energy efficiency.
“We started renovations at the end of November and moved in at the start of April,” Shaw says. “Our staff performed a lot of the improvements and we would not have such a nice space without all of their help.”
While there was some hesitation at first, Shaw says most of the team really likes the change. “We have found our crews are working better together.”
Asheville is on the forefront of an innovative trend in parks and recreation and public works. Investing in “behind the scenes” operations of parks and recreation departments is an investment in the community’s future. Consolidating facilities can help workers do their jobs more effectively by reducing travel times, facilitating cross-team communication, delivering more equitable services by centralizing equipment for more reliable delivery, and diverting carbon emissions associated with travel to multiple locations.
Join parks and recreation professionals making significant impact as they work to build a strong, healthy, and happy place to live. Current opportunities to work with Asheville Parks & Recreation can be found online.