Cashiers-Glenville recreation plan approved
Jackson County commissioners have approved a Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center Master Plan that will include the construction of a splash pad in place of the existing pool. The preliminary cost estimate for the entire plan is just under $2 million.
“We really were focusing on creating a central hub for recreation activity in the Cashiers-Glenville area. And really looking at making it pedestrian friendly and accessible, providing for outdoor recreation that was well connected to the community,” said David Tuch, president and landscape architect at Equinox Environmental.
Commissioners approved the Recreation Center Master Plan Dec. 7, after having delayed the project due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Jackson County had entered a contract with Equinox, an ecological consulting, planning and design firm in Asheville, in 2019. After a public survey that received 333 responses and an open house to garner input from the public, finalization for the master plan was set to begin in 2020 but was put on hold once the pandemic began. When master plan finalization resumed in spring 2021, changes had to be made to the plan due to developments during the interim.
The plan seeks to address the increase in membership at the recreation center — 1,668 in 2019 — and the limited space for recreational activities. The main purpose of the master plan is to provide an outline for the recreation center to become a central hub for recreational activity in the Cashiers-Glenville area that is pedestrian friendly, accessible to all, provides options for outdoor recreation and is well-connected to the community.
The current recreation center property is a 23.78-acre complex that comprises 10 parcels owned by the Cashiers Community Council and Jackson County. There are 11 structures on the complex including the recreation center, the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau, the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Library, senior center, The Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, the Cashiers Thrift Shop, Hampton Preschool and Early Learning Facility, the Jackson County Permitting Office, a public restroom facility, a maintenance building and an electrical shed. The structures range in age from the 1960s to 2012.
According to Megan Foy, landscape architect at Equinox, the pool at the recreation center is in a state of disrepair and gets a lot of stormwater runoff from adjacent parcels of land. There is nowhere on the pool property for water to go, so replacing or repairing the pool in its current location was not a suitable option. Stormwater has also been an issue for the existing tennis courts.
According to Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Hopkins, on average between 75 and 100 people use the pool daily. However, if not accounting for use by the Boys and Girls Club, day camps and daycares, the general public average daily use is about five to six people per day. This is part of why the new master plan includes a splash pad in place of a swimming pool.
In responses from the public, more than 30% of people listed swimming as the activity they were most excited about. This was the second most popular response behind walking and biking. Over 40% of respondents said the top amenity they would like to see was a new pool, the most popular response.
“I’ve always been a supporter of pools, and I’m excited about what’s going on with our rec center now in Cullowhee with the future pool , but I would emphasize for us to look at possible adjacent property to offer a pool for the future,” said Commissioner Mark Jones. “There is a need. It’s not a pressing need by the numbers of attendance at this time. The splash pad would be a lot safer, less expensive to operate and provide some aquatic experience for the citizens on that end of the county.”
Commissioner Gail Woody noted the community support for the Cashiers Boys and Girls Club as well as Summit Charter School and the possibility of those two institutions building a pool jointly with assistance from the county at some point in the future.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” said Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Ellis. “Like Mr. Jones said, there is a need for a pool up there, but in this frame and with this document it’s not feasible to be within the campus of what the county currently owns right now. But it’s definitely something we could look into with some of those other entities to cooperate and coordinate something with that.”
The plan also includes repositioning tennis and pickleball courts close to their current location to reduce issues with stormwater.
In addition to the splash pad, the plan also accounts for an ADA accessible fishing pier, an asphalt greenway trail, improving current trails, water fountain, lawn area, pavilion, benches, interpretive signage and soccer and baseball fields. The public had asked for a dog park, but during the time between planning periods, Vision Cashiers completed the Cashiers Dog Park in spring 2021.
One important aspect of the plan is overall connectivity between the recreation center and adjacent public resources. Walking paths created around the new and upgraded facilities will connect with the Village Green and other locations within Cashiers.
According to design experts, “it is imperative that the master plan provide safe connections to the Post Office, The Ramble, and the new Boys & Girls Club facilities.”