Booneville Development Corporation/South Logan County Chamber of Commerce officials and Booneville Mayor Jerry Wilkins met last week with a representative of the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to discuss the local park system.
As its first major undertaking, the Live, Work, Play initiative, the BDC/Chamber is leading an effort to secure as much as $250,000 in funding to enhance and upgrade the parks system.
A function of the Play committee, according to BDC Chamber executive director Stacey McCollough, the project will seek the funds through an outdoor recreation grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Recreation.
So far reaching is the project, McCollough adds, it may take "four or five years to complete, or longer," but he is guardedly optimistic.
"I think we can get it," he said.
Among the aspects of the project are the creation of soccer fields for use by the South Logan County Boys & Girls Club league, upgrades at Marcelle Phillips City Park and upgrades at the baseball/softball complex.
"The state does not like to spend all their money in one area, they like to see it in multiple ways," McCullough explains. "We can do multiple parks at one time."
Besides one or two soccer fields, likely the bigger fields McCullough said, the initial part of the project will include replacing the bridge at Marcelle Phillips City Park.
"A bridge is a difficult critter to put in (a proposal) because they want an outdoor recreation venue," said McCollough. "But the bridge is critical for us because it completes access for the disabled from the parking area to the rest of the park and it’s part of our trail system."
The bridge was knocked out when one of the piers was displaced by a fallen tree and flooding in October of 2010 almost creating two parks within the park.
Some money has been set aside for the bridge already. The 2013 Booneville Open Cow Pasture Pool the BDC/Chamber operates also identified the bridge as the targeted beneficiary of the tournament this year.
The land for the soccer fields has also already been purchased. In its April 2012 meeting the Booneville City Council approved expending $30,000 to purchase 10 acres of land adjoining the baseball/softball complex from the Booneville Industrial Development Corporation.
Boys & Girls Club officials had requested the city purchase 15 acres for seven regulation size fields, but said a year ago it expected to be able to fit its needs into the 10 acres.
City officials then said they would be unable to cover other expenses like creating a parking area, rest room and concession facilities, which are now part of this project, McCollough said.
As part of the grant application process, McCollough expected to have a survey ready for students in both Booneville and Magazine earlier this week. A public meeting will also be called for some time in June, he said.
Additionally the Play committee will be doing various other "legwork" to get the application ready by its August deadline, McCollough said.
A state Parks and Recreation official was also in town last week to do a site survey, McCollough said.
"The state knows we do not intend to do this one time and say ‘it’s done.’ We intend to get the complex we want and it will be used by people all over the area."