The City of Asheville hopes to have Rec Park Pool open this summer. Staffers found a serious problem with the pool after Buncombe County health inspectors voiced concerns about a gap between the pool deck and gutter. // AVL Watchdog photo by John Boyle.

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

Question: For the second year in a row the Rec Center Pool did not open on time. This year when the pool was being inspected, the Buncombe County inspector found a defect. This was not announced until Memorial Day weekend, and the city’s website has not provided an update since May 31. It seems that something is being poorly mismanaged. Whether it is the City of Asheville Parks and Rec, the company that has been hired to manage the pool, or how Buncombe County prioritizes inspections, pools should clearly be inspected early in the spring so that needed repairs can be done prior to the already very short outdoor pool season. It is unclear at this time whether the pool can or will be repaired this summer.

My answer: On a more positive note, I’m confident the pool will be open just in time for the winter outdoor season.

Real answer: The pool is indeed quite empty these days, and that’s likely to continue for a while, according to City of Asheville spokesperson Kim Miller, who got details from the city’s Parks & Recreation Department.

“Last year, when Asheville Parks & Recreation crews began preparations to open the aging pool in Recreation Park, they identified an area of delamination that could lead to unsafe swimming conditions,” Miller said via email. Delamination simply means separating into layers.

“Following a professional assessment, the area was repaired, water filled the pool, and Buncombe County health inspectors approved the chemical balance,” Miller said. “In all, the pool’s season was shortened by just the first two weekends or five total swim days.”

Miller said Asheville Parks and Recreation had no indication the pool wouldn’t pass its annual inspection this year.

“However, Buncombe County health inspectors voiced concerns about a gap between the pool deck and gutter,” Miller said. “Following a local engineer’s professional assessment, it was clear permanent repairs must be made to ensure the safety of our community.”

This situation was different from the delamination repairs of last year.

“It is a much more significant repair, requiring experienced aquatic specialists,” Miller said. 

For the past two weeks, city Parks & Recreation has worked with multiple pool construction firms to assess needed repairs.

Rec Park, a 50-meter, Olympic sized pool, opened in 1970. A larger pool operated from 1925 until 1956.

For now, Miller said, “A structural engineer is currently reviewing construction repair plans. Once those are approved by Buncombe County health inspectors, repairs can proceed.”

Miller said the Rec Park pool was inspected May 23.

“At that time, Asheville Parks & Recreation hoped repairs could be made and a second inspection scheduled before the pool’s announced opening day of May 27,” Miller said. “A public announcement was shared with the community on the City of Asheville website, multiple social media feeds, a media alert, and signs at the pool as soon as the decision was made.”

The city will continue to share updates.

Buncombe County spokesperson Lillian Govus provided the county perspective, first noting that Environmental Health “provides information to all public swimming pools ahead of the pool operating season in January/February.

“The information includes rule interpretation updates from the state, application information, and instructions on completing the compliance data sheets,” Govus said via email. “Once the pool operators/owners submit the application, they are responsible for calling to schedule a permitting visit with the registered environmental health specialist.”

The environmental health specialist verifies application and compliance information. Before a visit is scheduled, the registered environmental health specialist also verifies pH levels, pump information and more. If the conditions are met, the specialist schedules a visit with the pool operator.

The repairs needed at the Rec Park Pool are more significant than last year’s, and it’s not clear yet when the pool will be open. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle.

“If the pool ‘passes’ the inspection, a permit is issued,” Govus said. “If the pool permit is denied during the visit, (Environmental Health Department) provides a report which identifies the items that must be addressed prior to scheduling subsequent permitting visits. Multiple visits are often required to issue pool permits.”

The department’s busiest time for pool season is usually between April and the end of May.

“Seasonal pool permitting takes precedence during this time and is only secondary to complaints,” Govus said. “Year-round pools are permitted once per year and inspected twice.”

In the case of Rec Park, “once the necessary repairs are complete, another permitting visit will be scheduled so they can open as soon as possible,” Govus said.

Miller noted the Malvern Hills Park pool in West Asheville opened for weekends May 27 and daily June 10. Splasheville, the free splash fountain in Pack Square Park, opened earlier in May.

“A new pool is under construction at Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center and expected to open this summer,” Miller said.

Question: Why are there so many yellow left-turn arrows on Hendersonville Road in the South Asheville/Arden area when the oncoming traffic is relentless? And there’s a longstanding traffic light at the corner of Overlook and Long Shoals, at the entrance to Lake Julian Park, that until a few weeks ago was entirely reasonable in managing traffic on both streets. Now it suddenly stays green on the Overlook side for about two car lengths before it turns red again. This is the same locale where they’re in the final stages of building a large apartment complex, plus a new SOMA office and a dentist office, all of which will use Overlook, so it’s not as if traffic there is going to decline.

My answer: As a frequent driver of this area, I can tell you these flashing yellow arrows are a true delight. The one near the Fletcher/Arden Ingles is particularly fun, as the DOT put in two turn lanes for vehicles heading south, so if you’re heading north and trying to turn left, you can’t even see around them to know when to go. It livens up the ol’ grocery run, for sure.

Real answer: Anna Henderson, a traffic engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Asheville office, took these queries on.

“Flashing yellow arrows provide motorists on Hendersonville Road the opportunity to turn left on yellow after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians,” Henderson said. “The traffic signals also provide protected green arrows when motorists do not have an opportunity to turn left on yellow.”

Regarding the Overlook/Long Shoals intersection, Henderson said the DOT’s “technicians reviewed the operation of this traffic signal on Friday, June 9, and found that it was working as designed. We are not recommending any additional changes at this time.”

The traffic signal timing for Overlook Road currently ranges from a minimum of 7 seconds to a maximum of 25 seconds depending on the amount of traffic waiting to turn, according to the DOT.   

The signal timing on Long Shoals Road currently ranges from a minimum of 12 seconds to a maximum of 90 seconds depending on the time of day as more signal time must be provided on Long Shoals Road in order to keep the average of 25,000 vehicles per day moving along the corridor.

Stay safe out there!

(Editor’s note: This story was updated Tuesday, June 13, to include DOT information on traffic signal timing for Overlook Road and Long Shoals Road.)

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

2 replies on “Answer Man: Why is Rec Park Pool still closed? Hendersonville Road traffic lights make me crazy!”

  1. The answer to many of Asheville’s congested junctions is to replace the traffic lights with roundabouts which allow traffic to merge without so many vehicles needing to stop. It also means that a car arriving at the junction when no other cars are around doesn’t need to wait for a light to turn green. There are plenty of places in Asheville with adequate room for a roundabout while other junctions are simply too tight to make installation impossible.

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