Little Rock officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at Crump Park on Thursday, Sept. 10 to begin a nearly $2.5 million project to improve the city’s parks.
City leaders in attendance included Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and four members of the Board of Directors after recently approving $1.3 million in projects. Parks and Recreation Director John Eckart described the multiphase park improvements, which will begin with construction on a splash pad at Crump Park this fall.
“The splash pad is going to consist of water cannons and other play structures, will be 5,270-square-feet and will have areas designed for younger and older children,” Eckart said. “This facility will be an incredible addition to Crump Park, and will provide great access to aquatic recreation for this community.”
Other parks receiving upgrades are Dunbar, Hindman and Western Hills. Improvements include updates to playground equipment, new synthetic turf surfacing, and the construction of a new restroom at Hindman. Leaders aim to create more accessible parks and to decrease maintenance costs for the Parks Department in the future. Leaders also hope that the improvements will encourage residents to spend more time outdoors, particularly as parks offer safe social opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we talk about unifying our city and moving from being disconnected to connected, the best way for you to do that many times is with sports and outdoors and through entertainment,” Scott said. “And as we see a greater increase of folks utilizing quality of life in places and amenities, like the parks improvements that we’re making happen right now, we will find ourselves having intentional interactions where you’ll see many members of the existing community and other communities come to these various parks. And guess what may happen. They may make a friend. They may have a conversation, they may have a different perspective. And that’s what binds us all together as we move forward.”
City officials also gave the Parks and Recreation Department approval to apply for $1.1 million in grants for an additional phase of upgrades to MacArthur and Wakefield parks. Eckart said this phase will include the creation of the Tri-Creek Greenway, a 6+ mile trail that will eventually connect War Memorial Park, Kanis Park, and Western Hills. The Greenway will provide south Little Rock an alternate biking and pedestrian trail to the Arkansas River Trail, according to the city’s website.
The groundbreaking at Crump Park comes a week after the city’s announcement of the Asher Avenue revitalization initiative. Both projects focus on areas in Little Rock south of I-630 and east of I-30.
“We’ve been very intentional about ensuring that areas that have been often overlooked and underserved receive their due attention,” Scott said.