New restrooms open at parks

Parks and Recreation Department Director April Layher said that new restrooms are now open at two city parks and that they will be outfitted with automatic locks.

“The restrooms at Regional Park and at Martin Luther King Park are now open,” Layher said. “The work that is left to do will be completed by our parks employees and a contractor that we regularly use for small projects.”

The original project contractor was removed from the job by the city after failing to make satisfactory progress towards completion, Pine Bluff Department of Economic and Community Development Director Larry Matthews has said in previous articles.

JMJ General Contractors LLC of Bryant had agreed to construct the restrooms at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park for a low bid of $137,260 in January 2013, Matthews said.

Matthews said that he asked JMJ to return the keys to the restroom facilities.

“We had to change the locks because we couldn’t get the keys from them,” Matthews said.

Layher said previously that the work left to be done should cost about $4,000.

“I had been assured that the unfinished work would be completed but it never was,” Layher said.

Layher said that the new restrooms will have automatic locks that will engage from the outside to prevent vandalism and other criminal activity during the overnight hours.

The Pine Bluff City Council approved the purchase of the automatic locks for $1,745 at its July 21 meeting.

Layher said that the locks will be programmed to open early each morning and the close again each evening.