As an organization dedicated to neighborhood-level access to safe parks and high-quality recreation experiences, Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR) regrets to share the news that the pool in Malvern Hills Park will not open this summer.
APR hosted a meeting at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School on February 21 from 5:30-7 p.m. with a drop-in format that allowed more than 115 community members to meet City of Asheville staff and discuss in greater detail the process that led to this difficult decision.
- View slides as a PDF from the evening’s presentation
- View the evening’s handouts as a PDF in English and en español
On February 1, City of Asheville officials announced that the outdoor pool in Malvern Hills Park will not open this summer. During the pool’s 2023 inspection, Buncombe County Environmental Health inspectors recommended Asheville Parks and Recreation (APR) staff proactively assess and address maintenance needs that could impact community safety in future years. While APR aquatics professionals were able to safely keep the facility operational through last summer, the pool can no longer be repaired.
A 2015-2016 professional assessment of the 90 year-old pool concluded it “has seen its life use” and recommended “not to put more money in the current pool.” More recently, multiple contractors indicated there is a high probability that with any significant repairs or even general maintenance, additional issues with existing infrastructure integrity are likely to be found which would trigger even greater investments in order for the pool to meet current codes. The pool required reinspection in the 2021 and 2022 operating seasons as antiquated filter drain covers and pumps were retrofitted to meet new operating standards for public pools.
Malvern Hills Park opened as Horney Heights Park in 1922. Construction on the pool began in 1934 and was completed the next year using federal New Deal funding. City officials formally dedicated the park, pool, and bathhouse to the community on June 15, 1936.
When Recreation Park’s pool was sold in 1956, Malvern Hills and Walton Street parks housed the only public swimming pools in the city for the next 14 years. A new pool opened in Recreation Park in 1970.
In 1970, new walls were placed in Malvern Hills Park’s pool which reduced its size by seven inches. The same year, a filtration system was installed. Prior to this, the pool was drained and refilled once a week to ensure clean water. Federal Open Space funding provided money for extensive improvements in 1973 including a complete remodel of the bathhouse and additional deck space around the pool.
Professional assessments of APR pools in 2015-2016 concluded those in Malvern Hills and Walton Street parks had seen their life uses and recommended the City of Asheville plan for a replacement. Both pools’ infrastructure was deemed deficient. Recreation Park’s pool was found to be “in good shape.”
APR aquatics professionals kept all three community pools safely operational through the 2019 season with retrofits and short-term fixes; none of the pools opened in 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, City Council authorized construction of a new outdoor pool at Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center which was completed in 2023.
Malvern Hills Park’s pool required reinspection in the 2022 and 2023 operating seasons as antiquated filter drain covers and pumps were retrofitted to meet new operating standards for public pools.
Following a request for bids in November 2023, multiple contractors indicated a minimum of $400,000 is needed for the pool to open at current North Carolina public swimming pool codes and that repairs are likely to uncover additional issues with existing infrastructure integrity, requiring even greater investments in order for the pool to open.
Asheville Parks & Recreation