Jones Park Playground

  • UPDATES

    September 20, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an update about Jones Park Playground. 

    As a follow-up to this morning’s communication, please know our Maintenance Department IS saving the bricks and plaques as they disassemble the wooden structure at Jones Park Playground.  Unfortunately, the wood itself is not salvageable. 

    The bricks and plaques will be taken from the Ira B. Jones campus for safekeeping and cleaning.  In the near future, I will share more information about when community members that purchased a brick or plaque will be able to collect their keepsake.  

    For your safety, please do NOT come to the construction site to retrieve these mementos at this time.  Again, further communications will be sent out.  

    We know and understand the beloved playground was built by our community, which is why we will continue to keep you all updated as progress is made. 


    September 20, 2021 

    Good Morning Asheville City Schools Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an important update about Jones Park Playground.  

    Per previous communications, Jones Park Playground has been closed to all students and community members since August 24th following an unsatisfactory safety inspection from a third-party consultant. 

    The initial playground safety audit shows that the cost to make improvements to the current structure would be more than 50% of the replacement cost and exceeds “the added useful life of this play equipment.”  Therefore, fixing the playground as it currently stands is neither fiscally responsible nor an option Asheville City Schools would like to pursue.  

    Therefore, the next step in eventually replacing the beloved playground as funds become available is to remove the current structure.  Our Maintenance Team will begin disassembling the wooden structure beginning today, Monday, September 20th.  Originally, our plan was to begin this process tomorrow; however, due to impending weather, they will start today.  Therefore, you will notice additional staff on Ira B. Jones Elementary School’s property.  

    Once the playground is removed, a green space will be created for students, families and community members to enjoy.  

    Thank you for your support and understanding.  We will keep you updated as next steps are determined. 


    August 24, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Asheville City Schools Students, Staff, Families and Community Members.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an important update about our Ira B. Jones Elementary School community. 

    In August 2021, Asheville City Schools’ Maintenance Department engaged with a third-party consultant, Synergy Sports Global LLC, to assess the safety and code compliance of the Jones Park Playground.  To clarify, this is NOT the primary playground Ira B. Jones students utilize during recess but is the one community members and their families have access to on Ira B. Jones Elementary School’s property. Out of 100, Jones Park Playground’s safety inspection was ranked at 14.7.  In total, 59 issues were identified from the following categories: 

    • ADA and Accessibility 
    • Deterioration of Equipment 
    • Drainage 
    • General Hazards
    • General Maintenance 
    • Paint and Powder Coating 
    • Security of Hardware
    • Signage Failure to Warn
    • Surfacing 

    According to the report prepared by Synergy, “Jones Park Playground has served its useful life... poses a safety risk to users and has the potential to structurally fail.” 

    Therefore, beginning immediately, the Jones Park Playground will be closed to all students and community members until further notice.  Temporary fencing will begin going up around the playground as early as Thursday, August 26th. 

    We know and understand the playground is a valuable asset to the neighborhood and school community.  Thousands of students have grown up playing at the park, and many parents donated their time and financial resources to build the park.  

    However, at this time, the park is not safe and uninsurable.  Therefore, we must quickly act to ensure no one gets hurt.  

    The initial playground safety audit shows that the cost to make improvements to the current structure would be more than 50% of the replacement cost and exceeds “the added useful life of this play equipment.”  Therefore, fixing the playground as it currently stands is neither fiscally responsible nor an option Asheville City Schools would like to pursue.  

    Synergy recommends that the Jones Park Playground structure be “replaced as soon as feasible.”  The estimated cost to do so is between $85,000 - $150,000 depending on which new structure is selected.  

    School administrators, district leadership and the Asheville City Board of Education will be exploring several possible options. Our eventual hope is to replace the beloved playground as funds become available.  However, such a project will take time, community support and community input.

    Thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to determine next steps.  Please know we will continue to update you as progress is made.

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Montford North Star Academy Retaining Wall

  • UPDATES

    September 13, 2021 

    We wanted to let you know that construction will soon begin on the replacement of MNSA’s current retaining wall.  We believe the large rock wall was originally constructed in the 1950s.  And, over time, the wall has begun to deteriorate.  Currently, there is a segment along Gudger Street that, if left untouched, will eventually pose a threat to public safety; families currently picking up their car riders are safe driving on Gudger Street. 

    Thanks to the generous support of the School Capital Fund Commission, about $580,000 has been allotted to complete this project.   

    Asheville City Schools’ Maintenance Department has engaged with a third-party engineering consultant, S&ME, to ensure the new design is not only structurally sound but in alignment with the requirements of the Asheville Historic Resources Commission.  

    Construction on the new retaining wall will take about 120 days to complete.  While the project is underway, Gudger Street will be closed beginning Monday, September 20th until just before our students and staff leave for Winter Break. Knowing that our MNSA families currently use Gudger Street to pick up their car riders, with support from Principal Baggett, a new traffic pattern will be temporarily put in place for our car riders.  Families will form the car line down Courtland Ave. 

    In order to support our families, please know a traffic guard will temporarily be stationed outside MNSA during dismissal.  

    Construction will not interfere with our bus riders. 

    Thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to ensure construction is carried out as smoothly as possible.  We will continue to keep you updated as progress is made.

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