PINE BLUFF, Ark. – A park in Pine Bluff has been run down for years, but on Monday the community began coming together to change that.
With gloves on and tools in hand, people across the city and even a neighboring state came out to start the project of creating a local activity park.
Ken Gray and other locals said they would see tall grass, broken bleachers, and rotting wood, but they said that’s all about to change.
“I didn’t think it had any hope, because it had been down so long,” Gray said.
Gray, a local pastor, grew up just blocks from the park, saying he has great memories there.
“My son played baseball here and we attended games here,” Gray said.
He says the field was a special place and local Ryan Watley agreed.
“I remember pitching on this field, playing second base,” Watley said, “I kind of got a little nostalgic walking through the dug out like taking the field.”
But he said over time, the area started deteriorating as people were playing sports at other places in town.
“You would kind of look over here, and be like ‘Wow dang, that’s where we used to play at,’” Watley said.
Councilwoman Lanette Frazier for Ward 3 in Pine Bluff was thinking about how to spend the discretionary funds given to her by the city.
She has $25,000 to spend within the ward, and a fellow councilmember gave $15,000 of their own funds to help with the project.
While driving down the street she saw the park, sparking her interest. After the land was donated to the city, she called on the community and they hit a home run– doing the labor voluntarily– so the funds could be spent in a different way.
“Now that I know I can use my discretionary funds to get the materials, we’re planning to go down tomorrow or the next day,” Frazier said.
They will be using the funding for roofing, installing new bleachers, painting, and more.
Gray, while reminiscing on the past, said he is excited for the next generation of children to enjoy the park, just like his own kids once did.
“This is a great memory, and I hope we can sustain it, forever and ever and ever,” Gray said.
The activity park will have a variety of sports including baseball, football, and basketball, as well as a playground for kids to enjoy.
Councilwoman Frazier said it’s a work in progress but is thankful for everyone involved in making it happen.