MORRILTON, Ark. – The city of Morrilton is getting ready to roll, using funds from a bond measure to give new life to a nostalgic bowling alley that’s been closed for more than a decade.
“Playland” on Howell Drive shut its doors 13 years ago, slowly fading into a seemingly abandoned series of warehouses across from Koch’s Body Shop. Gary Koch, who inherited the business from his father, is used to eyeing the property next door and remembering what it used to be.
“This used to really be the place to hang out back when everybody was kids,” Koch recalls. “Friday, Saturday night you came to the bowling alley.”
Since its closure, there hasn’t been a similar property in Morrilton.
But thanks to the refinancing of a bond issue, that will soon change.
Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer has been negotiating the sale of the property for years, wanting to renovate the alley into a modern-day entertainment center, including a skate rink, party rooms, and arcade.
He first polled people on his Facebook page, asking if this was something people wanted.
“It was an emphatic, yes, we want this,” Lipsmeyer explained. “I think this is the most exciting thing we’ve been able to offer the citizens since I’ve been mayor.”
Besides turning into a positive place for kids and families, Lipsmeyer says the new business will also create jobs and create sales tax dollars for the city, as well as keep neighbors within city limits instead of traveling to nearby Conway for fun.
It’s also the latest project in a revitalization of Morrilton’s parks and rec. A new playground opened Wednesday, and the rest of the $1.8 million bond issue will go to pickle ball and tennis courts ($1 million will head to “Playland”).
The city plans to close on the bowling alley December 29th.