Several towns receive millions to improve, create ‘fun’ parks

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Several Northeast Arkansas communities will receive millions of dollars to build and improve their towns’ parks and outdoor recreation centers.

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced Monday that 25 counties across the state would share in a $3.6 million Outdoor Recreation Grant.

The grants, according to the news release, are divided into two categories: matching grants and facilities for underdeveloped neighborhoods (FUN) park grants.

In Region 8, matching grant recipients include:

  • Bald Knob (White County) to develop two picnic shelters with tables, install a new play structure with impact surfacing and improve accessibility at Collision Park and install field lighting at Bald Knob Sports Complex, $130,000.
  • Batesville (Independence County) to install a pedestrian bridge and improve access at Riverside Park, and install a new play structure at Kennedy Park, $146,004.
  • Brookland (Craighead County) to develop two new parks (Smith Street and East Ridge Parks) with pavilions, park amenities, play areas, walking trails, basketball facilities, and access, $225,000.
  • Cave City (Sharp County) to construct a new playground with accessibility and fencing at Cave City Park, $75,834.13.
  • Mountain Home (Baxter County) to develop an all-inclusive play area, amphitheater seating, restrooms, horseshoe pits, and accessibility improvements at Hickory Park, $225,000.
  • Mountain View (Stone County) to repair and refurbish the existing city pool and improve playground safety and access at Stone County Recreational Complex, $90,000.
  • Searcy (White County) to develop access, fencing and improve site condition at Riverside Park; improve access at Searcy Sports Complex; and replace old play equipment and impact surfacing at Yancey Park, $55,000.

FUN park grant recipients include:

  • Letona (White County) to install new play equipment and improve access at Letona City Park, $75,000.
  • Moorefield (Independence County) to develop a walking trail, picnic sites, benches, fencing, and access improvements at Moorefield Town Park, $75,000.
  • Peach Orchard (Clay County) to construct pavilion, install picnic tables, and replace existing outdated playground equipment at Peach Orchard Park, $75,000.
  • Salem (Fulton County) to repair, refurbish, and re-stripe (for tennis and pickleball) existing tennis courts at Salem City Park, $75,000.
  • Sidney (Sharp County) to replace play equipment, improve access and install benches, grills, and impact surfacing at Sidney Park, $75,000.
  • Swifton (Jackson County) to install new play equipment, benches, and access improvements at Swifton City Park, $75,000.
  • Tuckerman (Jackson County) to replace outdated playground equipment and associated fall-zone material, and to provide barrier-free parking and access to playground, restroom, and pavilion at Tuckerman City Park, $75,000.

While much of the park department’s efforts are focused on state parks, State Parks Director Shea Lewis said the grants allow them to partner with communities and municipalities to provide recreational experiences.

“We have found, during the pandemic, that these resources are more important than ever,” Lewis said.

Outdoor Recreation Grants Program Director Matt McNair echoed Lewis’s sentiments, saying few things can unite like a local park.

“Whether tournament-caliber ballfields on the edge of town, playgrounds and basketball courts tucked away in unique neighborhoods, or tiny downtown pocket parks providing a little rest and shade to workers and errand-runners, local parks allow folks to reacquaint themselves with their neighbors and the things they love about their hometown,” he said.

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