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City making plans for skateboard park

Friday, November 16, 2012

A poster shows options for a proposed skateboard park planned for Walker Park.
Blytheville Parks and Recreation director Elroy Brown is working on plans to build a skateboard park on the west side of Walker Park next year.

Thursday night, Brown presented information to the Blytheville City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee, offering two proposals from American Ramp Company of Joplin, Mo.

One proposed project is estimated at $56,364.23 and includes four half-pipe ramps in a 64-by-28-foot layout. The estimate on the alternative proposal is $81,235.95 and includes 20 items. Among those are half-pipes, quarter pipes and bank ramps, along with grind rails and other obstacles that would be in a 120-by-70-foot area.

"I think that's going to be a big boost for our parks," Brown said, noting he believes a skateboard park would draw visitors to Blytheville as the city attempts to improve its tourism effort.

Brown is also working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to resolve the annual fish kill at the Walker Park pond and to look for ways to control the geese population.

He said the city is considering oxidation pumps for the pond as well as stocking it with algae-eating tilapia fish.

"We're going to be doing some vast improvements," Brown said. "With the skate park and controlling the geese population and working with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, that's going to be very key."

Also, Brown told the committee he has estimates of about $31,000 each to repair the Walker Park and Williams Park pools. The Williams Park pool has been closed for several years.

Brown noted there are new signs in the parks showing they are tobacco-free and that they close at 10 p.m. He said folks can drive through the park after 10 p.m., but can't stop and park while it is closed.

Meanwhile, also during the nearly two-hour meeting, the board studied a proposed 2013 budget for the Delta Gateway Museum.

The museum is requesting $103,000 from the parks and recreation tax, in addition to a proposed operating budget of $76,210.

The special requests of parks and recreation funds are categorized as professional services.

They include $10,000 for Design 500 Inc. of Memphis to create a concept plan; $50,000 as a cash match for grants to fund final design, fabrication and installation of four permanent exhibits based on the concept plan (the grant request is $150,000 making the total project $200,000); a $20,000 request to remove the old awning and install a new motorized retractable awning on the front of the Kress Building; $15,000 for a track lighting system in the museum gallery; and $8,000 for a temporary (January to June) museum studies intern to help the director with object inventory and data entry, special events and other tasks.

Delta Gateway Museum founding director Leslie Hester noted the proposed intern has taken another position and the item could be cut if necessary.

Parks and Recreation Committee chairman John Musgraves suggested leaving the item in for the budget process.

The museum's regular proposed budget calls for $52,800 for personnel, including a $42,643 director's salary that has a 2 percent cost of living increase from the 2012 salary. Proposed general operations expenses add up to $23,410.

Meanwhile, Thunder Bayou greens keeper Dale Fender told the board that the golf course is in great shape and stacks up with some of the better courses in the region.

He said his crew is working on sod projects around the greens and they have work remaining on 20 of the 77 total bunkers. Workers are also addressing equipment issues and mowing down some of the native rough.

Fender said he has gotten many positive comments on the course from golfers.

"This time next year, I think we will be in the best shape we've ever been in," Fender said of the course.

He added he wants to advertise regionally to draw golfers within an hour drive of Blytheville.

"We just need exposure," Fender said. "We got a black eye last year; it's all healed over. I've encountered some people around that said, 'I thought that course was closed.' No, no. We're up and running. We're in great shape. I think now, more than ever, we need to advertise."

Fender said he is looking at naming the golf holes after animals seen by golfers playing particular holes.

He also plans to change the landscape around the tee areas and hopes to replace the current hole markers with a natural stone that has the hole's name and an image on it.

Meanwhile, Eric Miles of the Blytheville Area Soccer Association also addressed the board.

Soccer's immediate need is leveling the soccer field at the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex.

Musgraves said Wastewater Superintendent Kenneth Ellis will survey the field so the city can begin doing the needed work.

BASA also requested the city run water lines to the field and once again asked for a concession stand.

Miles noted the soccer board would rather have an appropriate-sized concession stand instead of a scaled down version, even if that means it takes a year to build one.

Musgraves indicated the request may take some time to come to fruition.

He thanked the soccer board for its work, saying he saw the success first-hand last fall and now has a better appreciation for local youth soccer.

According to Miles, there were 358 soccer players this fall and 40 teams.

Brown asked Miles to put together a disc of photos and a slide-show presentation to send to the state and national parks and recreation associations.


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