Filed under: Parks and Recreation Centers

WNC Nature Center wolf pups get names ***UPDATE*** Gray wolf exhibit open!


***UPDATE*** Nova and Wayah have acclimated to their new home and their exhibit is now open for WNC Nature Center visitors to view!

Calling them Wolf One and Wolf Two just won’t do, so the gray wolf pups that joined the WNC Nature Center in June have gotten their names. The female (and lighter colored pup) is named Nova, while the male goes by the name Wayah.


The two pups came to the WNC Nature Center from a facility in Bozeman, Montana when they were two months old. They have since been through a quarantine period and have been introduced to the gray wolf exhibit to meet and acclimate to the center’s existing gray wolf female Shalimar. Once that introduction period is through, the wolves will be on display to the public.


The search for the two pups came after the Center’s male gray wolf Cody was euthanized in April following his declining health due to cancer.

Gray wolves are highly social animals, says WNC Nature Center Director Chris Gentile, and introducing new animals to the exhibit was important of the health and well being of Shalimar.

And anyway, it is a pleasure to be able to welcome new guests at the WNC Nature Center. Alongside the wolf pups’ arrival, the Center recently celebrated the addition of two new barn owls, new baby goats and several young chickens.

Find out more about the WNC Nature Center at

Leave a Comment July 15, 2014

Checking in on the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project


Six months in and the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is well underway as specialized contractors begin the highly visible streambed relocation along the Swannanoa River at Gashes Creek Road.

Despite the scale of this project to manage high waters during floods and install infrastructure improvements and roadway access, the facilities at Recreation Park such as the picnic area, pool and the WNC Nature Center remain open to the public.

“This is a big project, but we understand that as we move into the summer, people are going to want to use this park,” said Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates. “There are designated construction areas in place which will allow the park to remain usable.” Access to the river at the park will be limited as work begins on the streambed relocation this week, Coates says. “We do want people to stay out of the construction area,” he said.

Keeping the project rolling involves managing several specific tasks at the same time:


One of the main fixtures of the project is the relocation of the streambed next to Recreation Park. The section currently has a sharp turn that, during high water, erodes and potentially undermines the embankment beneath Azalea Road. A contractor has already cleared vegetation along to site and begun moving fill from one bank to the other and over the next few weeks, work will increase at that site.


Straightening the bend in the river will ease erosion on the bank, while boulders placed in the streambed will slow water as it moves downstream.


Park amenities like picnic pavilions and the Recreation Park Pool are still open for the park’s most popular season.

bridge pilings

Crews have completed pilings for a bridge that will tie into the new roadway connecting the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex with Gashes Creek Road, a move that will introduce a smoother traffic pattern and incorporate infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Next, crews will begin building the bridge abutments for the 150-foot bridge span across the Swannanoa River.


The construction team is removing fill from a plain that runs along the river, a move that will allow water a place to go in cases of high flood waters.


On the other side of the Swannanoa River, trucks are compacting dirt along the future site of the road that will connect to the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.


Work on phase one of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is anticipated to be complete in December. Click here more information.

Leave a Comment June 9, 2014

Green features earn recreation center LEED Platinum certification

The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston Street has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. The designation is the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council in its recognition of building design and construction practices that reduce carbon footprint and environmental impact.

“This certification is great news,” said project manager Al Koph from the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. “We’ve worked hard to make this project a flagship for the city and an example of what can be achieved in sustainable building.”
City of Asheville LEED Platinum Certification

Dedicated in October 2011, phase one of the recreation center was the first City of Asheville facility built since Asheville City Council’s 2007 direction that all new municipal construction achieve at least gold LEED certification. Council includes among its strategic goals that Asheville be a southeastern leader in sustainability.

Throughout the project’s first phase, project architect Jane Mathews, acting as the LEED certification administrator and working with her design team, submitted qualifying elements to the USGBC and confirmed that it was on track. Thanks to features like use of natural light and water-efficient fixtures, the project cleared the bar for gold certification and then some.

“The City of Asheville is to be commended for showing strong leadership in promoting a very high level of sustainable design for its new facilities,” Mathews said. “We were honored to assist the City in fulfilling this commitment and to furthering its environmental stewardship by providing a quality, affordable and sustainable new center for Asheville and its citizens.”

Mathews presented the LEED Platinum certificate to Asheville City Council at its December 11 meeting.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center is probably most easily recognized by its roof, the shape of which channels rainwater into sediment reducing ponds and cisterns as well as the roof gardens. But the center also employs energy-efficient windows, geothermal temperature regulation and energy conserving insulation. In rating buildings for certification, the USGBC also factors in how far materials have to travel to get on site and the fact that most of the materials removed for the building were recycled.

Phase one of the center houses an auditorium, classrooms and office space. Phase two, which is currently in the planning stage, will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.

Click here for more information about the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center or any of the City of Asheville recreation centers.

Click here for more about the City of Asheville’s sustainability initiative.

1 Comment December 18, 2012

New community center honors pastor’s legacy

The Rev. Wesley Grant, Sr. stands with his choir at Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle, 97 Choctaw St. He founded the church and served there for nearly 50 years. Grant, who was born in 1915, died in 2007. The City of Asheville is recognizing his legacy by naming its newest community center after him.

ASHEVILLE – In an atmosphere of cheers, love and celebration, the City of Asheville on Thursday night dedicated its newest community recreation space, The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, in recognition of a great local leader and an historic cultural neighborhood.

The center was standing-room only as city leaders, community partners and many members of the Grant family gave thanks for the collaborations that made the event possible.

It is the first community center built in the city since the Montford Center in 1974.

No one was more excited than the Rev. Louis Grant, who was overjoyed to dedicate “something in the legacy of my dear old dad.”

Louis Grant opened the evening’s dedication by asking everyone to give a rousing cheer — which they did.

“Now we see a big, bright light in the Southside community,” he said. “Lord God, we say thank you for this celebration.”

Wesley Grant, Sr. was a prominent leader in Asheville’s African American community during the Civil Rights era and Asheville’s urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded the Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle Church in 1959 and served there for nearly 50 years.

He was born Jan. 31, 1915 in Sumter, S.C. and was a resident of Asheville for 75 years. He died in early 2007, leaving a legacy that included not only building a strong family at home and at church, but also working to achieve strides such as the election of Ruben Daley as the first African American Asheville city council member in 1969.

He attended Shaw University Extension Classes, Shaw University Summer Convention Classes, and received Honorary Doctorates from Covington Theological Seminary and Emmanuel Theological Seminary.

The center’s name also recognizes the Southside community, a large geographic area that once surrounded the new center. Southside was a predominately African American community of businesses, churches and neighborhoods that were for the most part demolished during Asheville’s urban renewal.

It is also the city’s first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “green building,” demonstrating city government’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

“Our city council had the vision and foresight to want to build a center that not only serves the community, but that is also a model of sustainability,” said Roderick Simmons, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts.

Some of the LEED features include a green roof, geo-thermal heating and cooling, storm water runoff management, and natural interior lighting. During construction, more than 75 percent of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill and recycled.

Mayor Terry Bellamy officiated Thursday’s event, noting many of the people who made this first phase of the center, the Cultural Art phase, a reality.

“Everybody who gave any money, any talent, any time – I want to recognize everybody who gave to this effort. I’m proud of you,” she said.

The Cultural Art phase of the center is 7,897 square-feet and features an auditorium, three classrooms, office space, storage, and parking.

The Physical Activity Phase will be constructed next and will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.

The Community Phase will be the final piece of the project and will include space for community partner operations.

Future phases will be constructed as funding becomes available.

The center was designed by Mathews Architecture, P.A. and built by H&M Constructors.

The $2.9 million center construction was funded by a number of contributors including the Eaton Charitable Fund, Glass Foundation, Janirve Foundation, Junior League of Asheville, the Raise the Roof at the Reid Community Campaign and the City of Asheville. Construction of the new center matches priority goals for each funder in that it serves children and their families, and provides a strategic public facility for the Asheville community.

During the dedication ceremony, Geoff Ferland, of the Asheville Parks and Greenways Foundation, presented city leaders with a check for $2,075 in personal donations from foundation members to kickstart the “splashpad” element of the Physical Activity phase.

Mildred Nance-Carson, chair of The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center’s board, thanked attendees for sharing in the event.

“I’m so glad to see you all, but even more glad to see each and every one of the Grant family,” she said. “We are here to honor a man who set a foundation not only for his family, but for the many families he touched. We worked hard for this.”

City leaders, partners, donors, program speakers and members of the Grant family cut the ribbon to the mark the center's official opening.

A youngster stands outside the new community center, the city's first to be built since 1974.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center's dedication ceremony was met by a capacity crowd.

To view more photos from the dedication, click here.

*Top photo credit:

Photo credit: Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, UNC Asheville Ramsey Library

Rev. Wesley Grant, Sr:  bhcP77.

4 Comments October 14, 2011

Phone book recycling drive focuses on community centers

ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville, Curbside Management, and AT&T are partnering for a phone book recycling drive that highlights area community centers.

Residents are encouraged to bring used telephone books to any of the 11 Asheville area community recreation centers from now through Aug. 18.

The center that collects the most used telephone books will win a $500 cash prize, funded by AT&T.

It’s the first time the city has conducted this contest, said Wendy Simmons, solid waste manager in the city’s sanitation division.

The winning center will use the money for a community event, according to Charles Lee, program supervisor for the city’s recreation centers.

“Each community has multiple events in which they gather to celebrate the uniqueness of that particular community,” Lee said. “Once a winner is determined, the center director will work with their community advisory board to determine what particular event [the center may have] and how best to use funds.”

The local drive is one of about 70 “Project ReDirectory” initiatives operated by AT&T. These are community-based recycling programs designed to promote the collection and recycling of directories. The directories are made from recycled paper waste and wood fiber, such as sawdust and wood chips that would otherwise go unused.

Directories are also recycled into animal bedding, bathroom tissue, cereal boxes, roofing shingles and new phone books.

To find a list of city recreation centers, visit:

4 Comments July 13, 2011

Groundhog Day at the WNC Nature Center

The word everyone was waiting for came out of the WNC Nature Center on Wednesday afternoon, as Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and Nibbles the Groundhog had a Groundhog’s Day conference to predict the coming of Spring.

The media event fell on the same day as the nationally-followed prediction by Punxsutawney Phil, but as Education naturalist Eli Strull explained, “We wanted to get the scoop as close to home as possible.”

Asheville Groundhog DayAsheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, taking on the role of “Groundhog Whisperer” conferred momentarily with 5-year-old Nibbles, the WNC Nature Center’s resident groundhog, before declaring that, though it may take its time, Spring will indeed arrive in Western North Carolina. “It’s coming. It’s going to be a little delayed, but it’s coming,” the Mayor said, adding thats she hopes people take advantage of good weather to visit the center.

The previous weekend’s warm spell brought huge crowds, said WNC Nature Center Director Chris Gentile.

The WNC Nature Center has observed Groundhog’s Day for the past eight years, and Nibbles is the second groundhog to have the honor of being front and center at the event.

Nibbles the Groundhog at WNC Nature CenterThe tradition, Strull explained, comes from European stock, and is timed to coincide with groundhogs coming out of their winter hibernation. Nibbles, who was raised as a pet and therefore cannot be released back into the wild, has recently moved into a new exhibit and habitat facility at the center’s red barn that allows for comfortable hibernation in the winter and activity in the warm months. Glass viewing windows mean visitors can better observe Nibbles in her new home.

The new exhibit is one in an ongoing series of improvements and upgrades at the WNC Nature Center, Gentile said.

The WNC Nature Center’s mission is to increase public awareness and understanding of the natural environment of Western North Carolina. Featuring over 150 animals including otters, black bear and red wolf, the Center is open from 10:00 – 5:00 daily.

The Center is operated by the City of Asheville and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

Leave a Comment February 3, 2011

Geothermal heating/cooling, rain collecting roof among big steps at new Livingston Street center

Construction of the new recreation and cultural center at Livingston Street is well underway, and the first phase of the project is expected to be completed early next year. But some of the energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable elements of the project are already beginning to emerge.

The Livingston center will be the first construction by the City of Asheville to pursue a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating since a 2007 vote by Asheville City Council mandated that all new municipal buildings meet at least that level of certification.

City of Asheville Al Kopf
“This is nice precedent, to have a building at this level,” says project manager Al Kopf, from the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.

Probably the most prominent design feature for people passing by the site at the corner of Livingston and Depot Streets is the “butterfly” roof, designed to collect rain water both for cisterns and to channel water into collection basins that reduce stormwater sediment runoff.

But another green feature for the center lies underground and out of sight: geothermal technology that will heat and cool the center. Beneath what is slated to become part of the center’s parking area, engineers drilled six holes 450 feet underground to tap into the naturally more stable subsurface temperature. Fluid-filled tubes run from a heat pump inside the 8,000 square-foot facility and into the six-inch wide bore holes, where they draw or release heat underground.

Conventional heat pumps typically exchange heat to or from the outside air, which experiences wide fluctuations in temperature. The geothermal wells, on the other hand, stay in the neighborhood of 55 degrees year round regardless of the weather or season.
Livingston Park Rec Center

“The ground stays a relatively similar temperature, so it becomes a good effective heat exchange,” says Jerome Hay from Sud Associates, the firm contracted to install the geothermal system.

The underground geothermal technology was installed over the past summer, but there’s plenty more to come for the center’s green elements. Apart from collecting rainwater, the building’s roof will have living vegetation in some sections, and the remainder will have an energy-efficient reflective index.

Jane Mathews, of Mathews Architecture, which has been contracted to track the building’s LEED compliance, notes that 90 percent of the spaces in the building will have natural lighting, and all corridors will be lit by sunlight. The center will also utilize low-flow plumbing fixtures and high-efficiency lighting.

The impact of construction is also closely tracked during the building process, with at least 80 percent of the materials from the demolition of previous structures having been recycled. Materials going into the new facility include recycled tile and Forest Stewardship Certified lumber. Wherever possible, building materials travel no more that 500 miles to get to the site.

“You have to credit City Council for taking the initiative and setting the bar this high,” Mathews says.

Click here to see more information about the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts initiatives..

3 Comments October 7, 2010

City of Asheville employees pitch in for Day of Caring

Carrier Park got a new coat of paint on Thursday, Sept. 2, as City of Asheville employees joined other organizations in the United Way Day of Caring. The event, coordinated by the United Way’s volunteer arm Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, encourages and highlights volunteerism in the community.

Throughout the community on Thursday, groups and individuals participated in service-based efforts to improve the areas in which they live, work and play.

City of Asheville Day of Caring

Alongside nearly 140 volunteers from partnering organizations, City of Asheville employees took up cans, brushes and rollers to put a new coat of paint on the wall around the bicycle track at Carrier Park. The restroom facilities and concession area also got new paint as well. Other groups mulched walking and jogging trails that surround the park. Volunteer support was provided by the City of Asheville’s Parks Maintenance crews.

“This is an important community event, and we wanted to be part of it,” said the city’s Neighborhood/Volunteer Coordinator Marsha Stickford. “And when we all get together like this, we’re able to do something really substantial. It has an immediate impact.”

Stickford said that the event also gave city employees a chance to get out of their offices and interact with others in the community, and show the City of Asheville’s support for the kind of positive impact volunteerism can have.

“That was amazing,” said Hands On Asheville-Buncombe Director Sarah Wolmuth. “It was so great to see everyone out there. It really made a big difference.”

Click here to read about opportunities to be involved in the City of Asheville’s volunteer program

Click here to read more about volunteer opportunities through Hands On Asheville- Buncombe

City of Asheville Day of Caring
City of Asheville Day of Caring
City of Asheville Day of Caring

City of Asheville Day of Caring

3 Comments September 2, 2010

No-smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on city property starting July 1

Beginning July 1, a revision to City of Asheville’s no smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on all city owned and occupied property. The new language applies to all City of Asheville parks, greenways and the grounds of city municipal facilities.

The move is intended to provide a healthier environment for City of Asheville employees and the general public and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. With cigarette butts constituting a large portion of litter in the City of Asheville, the non-smoking ordinance is expected to contribute to the overall cleanliness of the city as well.

The revised ordinance will not apply to city sidewalks and streets except where sidewalks are inside park boundaries. The sidewalk surrounding downtown’s Pritchard Park, for instance, is within the park’s borders and therefore will be subject to the non-smoking ordinance.

The law allows for designated smoking areas at city facilities, to be determined by the Asheville City Manager. A designated smoking area for the Asheville Civic Center will be determined in the near future.

Enforcement of the ordinance will rely on community policing and will be complaint-based. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine up to $50. City crews will soon be installing signs clearly marking areas where smoking is prohibited.

The amended ordinance was passed by Asheville City Council in April, enabled by 2010 legislation by the North Carolina General Assembly.

2 Comments June 15, 2010

Welcome to the City of Asheville Blog!

The City of Asheville, NC is excited to share content though this new blog. We hope that you find the content useful and informative. Thanks for reading.

15 Comments May 12, 2010

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