ASHEVILLE - The Malvern Hills Pool in West Asheville will open July 2, a surprise reversal after the city announced the beloved pool would likely be closed the entire summer following a failed inspection.
On June 17, the city said the pool would not open, but a July 1 news release said after "weeks of conversations, engineering and consultations, and brainstorming," a solution was found.
The pool’s opening was delayed following concerns about the drainage system’s configuration and suction covers during its annual inspection.
Following 2021 revisions to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act’s federal guidelines, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services instructed inspectors to field-verify suction outlets, according to the release.
During a May 22 inspection, the Buncombe County Environmental Health found the current drain system out of compliance with the updated safety standards and could not verify the flow rating of the drainage system.
But earlier this week, the drain cover manufacturer provided the department with updated documentation and the pool was approved to safely operate with the current configuration through 2024, said the release.
The city warned that visitor capacity may be limited in the first few days of its opening as lifeguards and other staff are scheduled for the location.
Parks and Recreation Director D. Tyrell McGirt attributed the city's contract with Swim Club Management Group, which manages all city pools and the splash pad, for helping resolve the issue quickly.
“Since we do not operate a year-round aquatics program, partnering with experts such as the Swim Club Management Group allows us to deliver the highest-quality seasonal swim offerings possible,” said McGirt in the release.
“In this case, we would not have had the contacts to resolve this issue as quickly without the help of our contracted pool provider – though our team members worked tirelessly to come up with solutions."
A June 22 meeting with the community at the Malvern Hill Park picnic shelter found many people outraged and frustrated with the closure.
Many were adamant the city find another solution. At the time, it seemed unlikely the situation would resolve soon enough for the pool to open.
"After meetings with contractors, engineers, Buncombe County, and community members, we are happy to bring this popular pool back to the community in time for July 4th celebrations," McGirt said in the release.
Julia Shuster lives in the neighborhood surrounding the pool, and was among those devastated by the closure.
After the July 1 announcement, she was "overjoyed and elated."
“That’s really exciting that they seemed to really hear some of the suggestions the community made," Shuster said. "I feel like for the first time in a long time, they really fought for us. Citizens, not tourists."
For her family, she said this means they get "a large chunk of our mental health back," and physical health opportunities for her kids and their friends.
“It’s a really important small win for our community. ... I'll be there," she said of the July 2 opening. "I'll be the first in line."
Two public city pools will be open this summer: Malvern Hills Pool and Recreation Park Pool on Gashes Creek Road.
Malvern Hills Pool will open July 2 at 11 a.m. and regular operating hours will follow: 12-6 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. - 6p.m. on Saturdays and 1- 6 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $3 a person.
Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. News Tips? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or message on Twitter at @slhonosky.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Following surprise approval, Malvern Hills Pool will open this summer