Riverbend Park Reopens Just In Time For Holiday

June 30, 2007 - Posted at 6:06 p.m. CDT

HARDY-It was the day hundreds had been waiting for.

On Saturday the gates of Riverbend Park swung open letting residents return.

"We're really excited. We've been really busy trying to get people notified and trying to get them in the park. We are really glad we have finally gotten everything taken care of and gotten it open," said Park Manager Clifton Johnson.

He says the word came Thursday from the Sharp County Judge that all violations had been corrected and the park could reopen.

"I want everybody to work with me and the park, so we can have a better park, and not have any more violations in this park," said Johnson.

While some areas of the park still show last September's flood damage, all ADEQ certifications have been met, and property owners say they are just happy to return to their vacation spots.

"It means a lot to us. We've got family up here. We've got plenty of things to do. It seems like when we are home we don't have as much time to spend with one another. Up here we are just together," said Tonya Gross.

Now families are playing games, riding four wheelers, and rolling their new start back into Riverbend Park.

"It's great. We needed to be back in here. We all have money tied up in here, and we need to be able to use this property," said Arthur Crow.

"You don't really know what you have until you lose it. I know you hear that all the time, but we haven't been able to use it all year. Now we are here, and ready to go," said Gross.

Park management says they are thankful that the park can finally move in a new direction.

"The past is behind us. The future is ahead. We need to have everybody enjoying the park and coming up to use their facilities. We welcome everybody back," said Johnson.

The court order dated 6/28/07 confirmed that Clifton Johnson will maintain the park, and will work with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

The park will be required to have all permits by the end of six months.

*Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.