Changes In Store For Craighead Forest Park

JANUARY 16, 2004 -- Posted at 10:50pm

JONESBORO, AR - Changes are on the way to Craighead Forest Park.

"We're wanting to make it a premier fishing lake," said Sam Barkley, District Fisheries Biologist at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Barkley said they not only want to improve the quality of fish in the water, but also increase kids' chance of catching them by building a levee and separate pond.

"On the south end of the lake there, and we'll be stocking it pretty heavily on a regular basis throughout the year," said Barkley.

Game and Fish leaders began to question the city's commitment to those improvements though when Director Scott Henderson was told by an unknown city official that the $500,000 had been removed from the 2004 budget.

"I'm not sure how the director was informed of the money, but I think that's probably what the person had intended was that that money was not directly related to fishing and the fish areas," explained Jason Wilkie, Director of Jonesboro Parks and Recreation.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is using its' money to improve things like the lake's depth, boat ramps and fish habitat.

Henderson wanted to make sure city leaders were going to keep their end of the deal by adding a bridge across this spillway, improving swimming areas and upgrading playground equipment among other items.

Wilkie added, "We have a lot of plans for Craighead Forest Park, and I'm not sure how the funding's gonna come for those plans, but for the immediate improvements that are happening this year, those are budgeted and paid for."

For the last 10 years, $50,000 has been set aside for improvements in the park. More than $200,000 of the $500,000 will remain in the 2004 budget. The rest will go towards capital improvements.

"As far as I know that's not going to continue, that $50,000," added Wilkie. "I think the city council has said that enough money has been set aside."

Arkansas Game and Fish leaders are figuring out the cost for their projects. The city will likely match that price tag by donating labor and equipment.