Van Buren Parks Get Makeover

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Parks in Van Buren are getting a makeover.

The city is working to clean up several parks and has hired an engineering firm to help with the redesign. Lee Creek Park is one of the areas that will receive extra work from volunteers after it was abandoned due to tornado damage and sat empty for years.

City leaders said they’re in the early stages of forming a comprehensive parks plan. The city will partner with CEI Engineering in Bentonville, which will provide planning and landscape architecture for the project.

"(CEI Engineering has) a lot of history with doing similar plans and doing a lot of trail plans in northwest Arkansas and other parks plans," said City Planner Joseph Hurst.

Students at Cass Job Corps are restoring Lee Creek Park. Project Manager Chris Wilson said Job Corps develops vocational skills and helps students become more employable in a competitive job market.

"It gives our students a chance to get some real world training out of the equipment," said Wilson. Students use the large construction equipment to move dirt and pick up tree limbs.

Wilson said it’s been a challenge to clean up the park during the harsh winter, but he expects it to be cleared and ready for people to enjoy by early summer.

"Due to the weather, we are running behind,” Wilson said. “We've had rain; we've had snow and ice. And not only are we fighting the weather from the city of Van Buren, but we're also fighting the weather from where our center is located."

Hurst says there are at least five parks the city plans to focus on developing including the Field of Dreams, Forest Oaks and the Veterans Park in downtown Van Buren.

"We look to sort of reinvigorate the downtown and get a reason to go down there. Put some sort of park facility that will get more traffic," he said.

Project managers expect Lee Creek Park to be open in early summer. According to city administrators, they plan to hold public input meetings to find out which features people want in the revived parks.

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