Van Buren Parks System Expanding

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Van Buren is gearing up to open a new park and make much-needed changes to an existing park.

With recent land donations coming in at more than $1 million, Van Buren's more than doubled it's parks in just the past few months. City leaders say that they can't wait to get to work and get the parks open for the public.

It's all part of a master plan aimed at improving the quality of life, according to Van Buren Planning Director Joseph Hurst.

"People really care about their quality of life and they want the place where they live to be somewhere that they can go out and play and they can take their kids, and their grand kids, and that priority has really been going up," Hurst said.

The city is taking over Lee Creek Park which was abandoned and sat empty for years as well as taking on new projects like a 55-acre donation by Rausch Coleman homes that in a few years will be home to the Chad and Betty Ann Colley Wilderness Park.

"We have a whole segment of our city that doesn't have access to a park and that new 55 acres will allow that neighborhood and other neighborhoods in the city to have somewhere that they can go," Hurst said. "Whatever we plan to do there, we don't know yet but whenever we put something in there its going to really fit the need that we had out there."

"We've got a blank canvas," said Mayor Bob Freeman. "Over the next several years we will be developing what that's going to be."

The city is planning to ask for input from residents to come up with future plans for the park, Hurst said.

Mayor Freeman says the only costs to the city will be minimal, with the biggest costs being for clean up and new equipment. Freeman said he expects Lee Creek Park to be restored and back open to the public possibly by next summer. As for the Chad and Betty Ann Colley Wilderness Park, that's slated to open sometime in the next several years.