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The Southside Community Center now has a pool, indoor gymnasium, and more

The more than 3,000 square foot pool has a shallow play zone for kids, lounge chairs and table, and a water basketball court.
City of Asheville
The more than 3,000 square foot pool has a shallow play zone for kids, lounge chairs and table, and a water basketball court.

This month, a community center in Asheville’s Southside neighborhood completed an $8.3 million expansion.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center now features an outdoor swimming pool and basketball court, indoor gymnasium, as well as additional rooms and open space for community programming, studying, and socializing.

This is the first public pool to open in Asheville since 1970, according to the city. As summer begins to wind down, the Southside pool will operate on a Saturday and Sunday schedule through August 27. Next summer, residents can expect it to follow a similar schedule to other city pools. The rest of the center is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Years of neighborhood input and planning preceded the 15-month long construction project, which broke ground in May 2022 and was completed in August.

The project is an expansion of the Southside Center that opened in 2010. The neighborhood has long operated as a community hub, especially for Asheville’s Black residents. Other historic landmarks nearby include the Nasty Branch Greenway, Choctaw Street Park, and Walton Street Park – the latter which was designated as a local historic landmark in 2022.

“Everyone who lives in this neighborhood knows its rich history of parks and recreation including Walton Street Park, home to the first park and pool for Asheville’s Black families during an era of government-sanctioned segregation,” Asheville Parks & Recreation Director D. Tyrell McGirt said in a press release.

“Asheville Parks & Recreation is very happy to partner with Southside residents to build on that legacy with the expansion of Grant Southside Center – a smart investment that builds on the center’s original plan to bring valuable resources while building equity in this vibrant neighborhood.”

Since its inception, the center has hosted thousands of meetings, activities, and events, according to a press release. Now, the city hopes to offer more recreation at the center like basketball leagues, water aerobics, and fitness classes. In the press release, the city encouraged Southside community members to stop by the center to share their ideas to fill the center’s weekly schedule.

The Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Community Center is at 285 Livingston St. and is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.