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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.”  The full report can be found here.  

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.