Park District: South Central
Census Tract: 9
During the budget year 2021-2022, Asheville Parks & Recreation allocated $500,000 for redevelopment of Walton Street Park. Currently, this 4.8-acre neighborhood park features a ballfield, basketball court, off street paved parking, a picnic shelter, and a playground. Recently, park benches, grills, and the park sign were replaced and improved lighting was installed.
Throughout the winter and spring of 2022, Asheville Parks & Recreation and local nonprofit Southside Rising will gather input from neighborhood residents on their vision for this vibrant space that has hosted many community events, birthday parties, family celebrations, and more over the decades. Planned outreach opportunities include block parties, neighborhood meetings, and discussions to determine priorities regarding recreation features, additions, and enhancements.
Simultaneously, staff members from multiple City departments will work closely with neighborhood elders and community organizations to discuss the area of historic consideration and the most appropriate way to honor its significance and personality. Specifically, Walton Street Pool and a bathhouse are located on the southwest corner of the property. For more on those options, visit the project page.
From government-sponsored segregation policies to the rise of private members-only swim clubs, limiting access to swimming pools and other recreational spaces by people of color was prevalent in the twentieth century. A visible legacy of these actions is in Asheville’s Southside neighborhood. Built around 1938, the pool at Walton Street Park existed for many years as the only public pool for the city’s Black families and community members.
Following multiple consecutive years of significant repairs, a professional assessment of Walton Street Pool in 2016 found the infrastructure deficient with major leaks and failing underground pipes. The investigation concluded repairs and renovations will no longer extend the useful life of the facility. Additionally, the pool has a very small shallow area and drops quickly to a depth of 12 feet, leaving little swimmable space for young pool users.
Balancing the historical significance of Walton Street Pool and the neighborhood’s need for a modern, safe swimming pool and other high-quality recreational spaces, a redevelopment of Walton Street Park that honors its legacy while constructing a new aquatics facility at Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center meets the vision of feedback presented by the community in 2017. Located roughly two-tenths of a mile from the current pool, the Grant Southside Center acts as a vibrant neighborhood hub with ample space for a pool with expanded amenities that can accommodate swimmers of different ages and abilities, increased program offerings, and greater security and safety features available at a staffed full-complex recreation center.
Park Improvements and Historic Considerations
Asheville Parks & Recreation and Southside Rising will collaborate with neighborhood voices to redevelop and enhance recreational opportunities at the park. Community surveys have indicated support for better access routes, expanded playground features, a walking and jogging track, and a trail connection to AB Tech Community College.
Meanwhile, the City’s Historic Resources Commission will work with community members to identify interest in applying for a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and/or a Local Landmark designation that will guide the future of the pool and bathhouse. For more on that process, visit the project page.
- January-August: Community input meetings and outreach yield information about Walton Street Park during planning for Grant Southside Center Phase 2 (Recreation Phase) expansion project
- Summer: Movies in the Park at Walton Street Park
- November-December: Stakeholder meetings with Asheville Housing Authority and Grant Southside Center Advisory Board
- January-present: formation of community-led group focused on engagement around the recreation features, additions, and enhancements with monthly meetings and regular reports to Asheville Parks & Recreation
- Second Saturday of each month from 9-11 a.m. (January 8-present): Southside Pancakes socials at Grant Southside Center
- Thursdays from 9-11 a.m. (March 3-present): Coffee & Conversation drop-in open office hours at Grant Southside Center
- March 19: Inflatable Funday at Walton Street Park
- March 25: Cookout at Walton Street Park
- March 26: Southside Community Cleanup
- April 29: Block Party at Walton Street Park
- January-August: Community input meetings and outreach for Grant Southside Center Phase II (Recreation Phase) expansion project include requests to redevelop Walton Street Park.
- September: Asheville City Council authorizes an amendment to the design contract for the Grant Southside Center expansion to include a new outdoor pool with more areas that can be enjoyed by community members of all ages.
- November: Replacement of park benches and grills
- Spring: Installation of new park sign and improved lighting
- January-present: Asheville Parks & Recreation, Southside Rising, and community members host outreach opportunities to determine priorities regarding recreation features.
- January-present: Members from multiple City departments work with neighborhood voices to determine ways to honor the area of historic consideration.
Alic Wynn, Parks & Recreation, 828-259-5483
Alex Cole, Historic Preservation, 828-259-5638