Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: I’m curious what’s going on with Carolina Day’s bigger athletic field at its complex on Sweeten Creek Road. The grass was stripped off over the summer, and it appeared they might be laying turf, or resodding it. But the field has been covered in what looks like gravel since late summer. Not having the field has to have put a crimp in their athletic plans.

My answer: I don’t know, I suspect soccer played on bare gravel really builds character.

Real answer: Carolina Day School, which is located on Hendersonville Road, has indeed seen some delays in this field project.

“If you’ve happened to drive by the Sgro Athletic Complex on Sweeten Creek Road in the past couple of months, you’ll note that the installation of the new turf field and lights has been stalled, due in part to some permitting issues that we are working through with Buncombe County,” Carolina Day’s Head of School, Stephanie Whitney, said via email. “We have received all of the materials we need to complete the upgrading of our lower field, and are hoping to have secured the final permitting in the next six weeks.”

Carolina Day School is still planning on installing artificial turf at its Sgro Athletic Complex on Sweeten Creek Road, but the project has been delayed by stormwater permitting requirements. // Asheville Watchdog photo by John Boyle.

The turf and other materials are visible near the field; it’s hard to miss the large rolls that have been sitting there for weeks and weeks.

“While the project has taken far longer than we had anticipated, we are still scheduled to come in within budget, and look forward to the day when our Wildcats can play on the new field later this spring,” Whitney said.

The property is located on the west side of Sweeten Creek, to the south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Buncombe County.

Carolina Day spokesperson Sarah Goldstein said the permitting has to do with stormwater work, which turned out to be a little more complex than originally thought. 

Buncombe County Planning Director Nathan Pennington said the installation of artificial turf on the site “will require that erosion control and stormwater permits are secured with the county.

Materials for the new artificial turf field are piled up around the Carolina Day School Sgro Athletic Complex, awaiting installation. // Asheville Watchdog photo by John Boyle.

“Gravel is necessary for drainage purposes before they lay the artificial turf,” Pennington said.

In October 2021, Carolina Day announced it was launching a public-private partnership with Asheville Parks & Recreation for improvements to the Sgro Athletic Complex and for community use of facilities. The improvements include the artificial turf field, which will hold up much better to increased use.

Once the field work and partnership are finalized, it will allow for secondary use of the athletic complex by Asheville residents. Carolina Day will continue to use the facility for school activities, while Asheville Parks & Recreation will use the facility to program athletic activities with a concentration on underserved and underrepresented communities, according to the 2021 release.

“Sgro Athletic Complex is an exceptional athletic facility, but it’s underutilized for much of the year,” Whitney said in that press release. “We want to maximize the property for the benefit of an area of the city that has been underserved by the existence of athletic fields, and in doing so, make a meaningful difference in the lives of our Asheville neighbors.”

In an interview Feb. 1, Goldstein said the partnership plan is still a go, but …

“To be clear, both aspects of this project are taking longer than anticipated — both the longer timeline with the city regarding the joint operating agreement, and the permitting issues that we are working through with Buncombe County — but the delays are unrelated,” Goldstein said via email. “It should also be noted that the construction delays are not impacting the progress on the joint operating agreement. They’re both just taking longer than Carolina Day School originally expected, so we’re adjusting our expectations.”

The smaller grass field to the south of the larger field is still usable. 

As far as how the delays are affecting school sports, Carolina Day Athletic Director Tauni Butterfield said via email the school is using its other amenities.

“As for now, coaches and athletes involved in spring athletics will work with the locations that we have, and we will all look forward to the prospect of having an enhanced main playing field in the future,” Butterfield said. “It’s frustrating, but we can’t control the delays, so we’ll just roll with it and continue to make adjustments.”

The Biltmore Estate did drill two 700-foot-deep wells on its property to ensure an adequate water supply. Biltmore Estate photo.

Update on Biltmore Estate’s water system: On Jan. 27, I answered a reader’s question about how the Biltmore Estate fared during the city’s holiday season water outage. An estate spokeswoman said, “Biltmore uses some city water that mixes in a holding tank on our property with our own well water. We only utilize reservoirs on the estate for irrigation.”

The estate does own the Busbee Reservoir a few miles from the estate.

“Hello, Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Standby for news.”

This is all correct, but as Paul Harvey used to say (yes, I’m really old!), an astute reader pointed out “the rest of the story.” Actually, he pointed us to a May 6, 2021 press release from McGill Associates, an engineering firm with an office in Asheville.

Titled, “Groundwater supply wells for the Biltmore Estate,” the release notes that, “Today, with two hotels and numerous restaurants, not to mention increased visitation, water demands for the Biltmore Estate have grown substantially due to the development of additional amenities for tourism at the estate.”

The 250-room estate, which is now surrounded by 8,000 acres of land, opened for the Vanderbilt family in 1895. Until the 1980s, the estate used the Busbee Reservoir and a 2.2-mile long water line that conveyed water to the Lone Pine Reservoir on a hill above the Biltmore House.

New regulations required the estate to connect to the city of Asheville’s water system in the 1980s, according to McGill.

“Growth of the estate, demands for additional water supply, and the dependence on a single water supply line from Asheville to the Estate raised concerns of vulnerability,” McGill Associates stated in the release. Biltmore commissioned McGill to offer some options.

“Water demands for the Biltmore Estate are over six times greater than it was 30 years ago, growing from 20,000 gallons per day in 1990 to 125,000 GPD today,” McGill stated. “Historically, the estate purchased 100% of its potable water supply from the city of Asheville.”

But, estate managers were concerned about that single supply line and potential negative impact to the estate in case of a break, drought, or “dirty” water for periods of two or three days, McGill stated.

So the McGill team developed two water wells, each about 700 feet deep, according to the release. McGill’s water analysis showed that only disinfection was needed for treatment prior to usage.

McGill designed the system and got state permits to connect the two wells into the estate’s system.

“Improvements included approximately 17,000 linear feet of 6-inch and 8-inch water line, a chemical storage and injection system for disinfection and a new, 200,000-gallon prestressed concrete water tank to provide additional system storage,” the release noted. 

This next paragraph — from nearly two years ago, mind you — was particularly interesting:

“The new system was successfully put to the test when the city of Asheville had a major water line break, shutting down supply of water to the estate for over 30 hours,” the release stated. “The new wells were able to supply 152,900 gallons of water on the first day after the break and 162,500 gallons on the second day after the break, which supplied 100% of the estate’s demand, resulting in no disruption of service.”

And now you know … the rest of the story. Now, all you youngsters (let’s say anyone under 50), go Google Paul Harvey.

Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at or 828-337-0941.

3 replies on “Answer Man: What’s up with Carolina Day’s athletic complex? Biltmore Estate does have its own water system.”

  1. Great story and great to meet the full Asheville Watchdog crew last night at Hi-Wire Brewing. A special shout out to John Boyle for joining the team and speaking. Wicked sense of humor and even posed for a selfie with us!
    Donation coming your way this morning. Keep up the great work!

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