Jake Rusher Park – Bond Project

Last updated or reviewed on May 26, 2022

New park building
Bond-funded improvements to Jake Rusher Park have included new parking, accessible sidewalks, sport courts, a pavilion and restroom building, new landscaping and improved lighting. Now a playable art project is coming to the south Asheville park.
Park District: South
Census Tract: 22.01/22.02

Happening Now

Becky Borlan, a Baltimore-based artist, has been selected by a review committee to design a piece of interactive playable art which will be installed near the playground. Borlan’s artistic style uses color and light to remind visitors that play is essential to our growth and well-being. This project is funded by the City’s 1% for public art commitment in which Capital Projects sets aside funds on constructed projects specifically for public art.

The community was invited to a virtual meet and greet with Borlan. She gave a short presentation and gathered personal stories of park experiences to help guide conceptual designs for the playable art. Installation is scheduled for 2022.



The Royal Pines neighborhood got its start as a large residential subdivision in 1925. Named for the white pine trees growing in the area, the development offered electric power, paved roads, a water and sewerage system, and recreational opportunities for its residents. Like most of the area and nation, the Great Depression slowed growth, but the population boom following World War II helped realize Royal Pines’ potential.

Jake Rusher owned the Royal Pines Club, Recreation Center, Pool, and Skateboard Park for over five decades. The campus also included a dance hall and casino, becoming a popular hangout for college and high school students from the 1940s through the 1980s. During its heyday, The Supremes, the Isley Brothers, The Drifters, Bo Diddley, and other stars performed at the center.

In 1999, Rusher donated the land to the City of Asheville. Asheville Parks & Recreation replaced the pool and casino building with a playground, natural play spaces, benches, and a basketball court. Following Asheville voters’ 2016 approval of $17 million in bond funding to improve, enhance, and develop parks and facilities, a series of community meetings, focus groups, and other feedback opportunities were offered throughout 2017-2019.

On February 11, 2020, Asheville City Council unanimously authorized the City Manager to move forward with a $975,274 construction contract with Carolina Specialties Construction for improvements to Jake Rusher Park. Improvements include a pavilion and restroom building, additional parking, accessible sidewalks, sport courts, new landscaping, improved lighting, and relocation of utilities. Construction on the recreational features was completed in 2021.

The interactive playable art feature is scheduled for installation in 2022 and will be an addition to the existing playground.


Project Timeline


  • April 5, 17, and 30: Community meetings
  • Summer-Fall: Planning and conceptual drawings


  • May 19 and 24: Community meetings
  • June: Online feedback
  • Summer-Fall: Planning and conceptual drawings


  • December 19: Bids advertised for qualified builders


  • February 11: City Council unanimously approves the scope of work and authorizes the City Manager to enter into a contract
  • April: Construction begins


  • July 24: Ribbon cutting
  • October 7: Virtual meet and greet with Becky Borlan


  • Summer: Installation of interactive playable art feature


Supporting Documents

Parks and Recreation Master Plan

Bond Referendum Overview

Spring of 2017 Community Meetings Flyer

Spring of 2018 Community Meetings Flyer


Contact Information

Parks & Recreation, parks@ashevillenc.gov, 828-259-5800



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