You may have noticed green and white signs recently popping up at local parks, pools, sports fields, and river access points. They’re part of an effort by Buncombe County to make these places safer and easier to identify in the event of an emergency.
“This was a complete collaboration that started with a community meeting and involved a few County departments working together for successful execution,” according to Josh O’Conner, Director of Buncombe County Recreation Services. “Chris Bubenik, our department’s Marketing Planner, attended a meeting of The Asheville River Alliance, a loose network of outfitters and business owners with a tie to the part of the French Broad River that flows through our area. As the river has seen a major increase in use, members found that visitors and locals have a hard time identifying exit areas. For example, a group of kayakers might think they’re getting out at Asheville Outdoor Center, but they’re really at Bent Creek River Park. It seemed easy enough to do our part and make sure our parks were all easy to identify.”
The signs aren’t just for recreational purposes, though. The French Broad can sometimes be unpredictable and difficult to navigate – especially when water levels are at or above runnable levels. (River gauge data is regularly updated on the French Broad River Trail’s website.) When an emergency situation requires a quick withdrawal, every second can make a difference.
Recreation Services Programs Manager Lynn Pegg and Planning and Development e911 Street Addressing Coordinator Mila White worked to guarantee all river parks had the correct address for response teams. Emergency Services staff collaborated on the signs’ design to ensure they were clear and easy to read. As one of the only governmental entities undertaking such a project, a statewide or national standard does not exist.
As the project progressed, the team also identified areas in regional, community, and recreational parks that should also have location signs. These include fishing docks, playgrounds, sports fields, and picnic shelters. Buncombe County pools have posted addresses for the last several years.
“Larger parks like Lake Julian and Buncombe County Sports Park have several areas in which an emergency may take place,” continues O’Conner. “The Sports Park has nine soccer fields, a community garden and orchard, sand volleyball, an outdoor fitness area, and more along the road that runs through the park. Lake Julian has two entrances off of Long Shoals Road and another off Hendersonville Road. If someone calls 911, they can now direct responders to the exact location within the park.”
Programs Coordinator Mac Stanley and Park Rangers Adam Zinke and Matt Dixon from Recreation Services installed the signs. Outreach Coordinator Max Taintor, Public Information Coordinator Kassi Day, and Information Specialist Dan Hesse from the Communications Department have ensured public awareness of the new signs.
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