Newport Alderman Fighting for Fair Funding

May 20, 2003
Posted at: 9:19 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, Ark. - One Newport alderman is going in circles to get funding for a park he says does not rise to the standards of another park in the city, and the city's mayor says there is plenty of money in the budget.

George Kell Park in the east side of Newport is one of the premiere parks in the state, according to Mayor David Stewart. Even so, City Alderman Pinkey McFarlin says the residents on the west side of the city should get the same attention as their neighbors.

"Just look around," McFarlin said. "This part of the city is dead."

McFarlin has even went so far as to make a home video of Branch Street Park in west Newport. The park is shown with tall grass on the ball field. He presented the tape to the city council in order to show why the park needs additional money for upgrading.

"At least give us $2,000, $3,000," McFarlin said. "Don't just slap us in the face, and say there's nothing in the budget."

When asked, the mayor says that there is enough money in the city budget to take care of the maintenance of Branch Street Park. However, Stewart says that the city will not improve it to the status of George Kell Park, because fewer kids use it. Maintenance on the field, he says, will be done when the weather improves.

McFarlin claims that the park has been in its current condition for quite sometime. He says that, under the current mayor, the lawn has not been mowed in a long time, making this a hazard for children.

"If (Alderman) McFarlin says I haven't mowed it since I've been the mayor," Stewart counters. "That's incorrect. The city employees have mowed it twice already this spring. At this point, we can't even mow the park because it has much water in it, because it's in a very low area.

For McFarlin, however, that may not be good enough.

"If I can't get something done in west Newport," he said. "I'm going to keep re-visiting it. So it's going to keep coming back again."