Parks and recreation committee supports Merrill Center package

The Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission’s Maintenance Committee on Thursday afternoon unanimously endorsed a proposed improvement package of an estimated $404,822 for the Merrill Community Center.

Committee chairman Fabian Fontenot told fellow panelists Jonathan Frazier and Krandon Henry that local architect Fred Reed had authored the work scope and listed avenues in which the total amount could be cut.

The full commission will now consider the matter and could recommend the city council’s approval.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Angela Parker told the committee that city employee Larry Reynolds is currently formulating a master parks plan. Parker said the last such guide was completed a dozen years ago.

Parker said the plan would include a listing of small parks that may be offered to churches or neighborhood watch groups for “adoption,” an idea that drew observing Alderman Steven Mays’ favor. Parker said the effort is designed to help save money for the department as well as to enable the current staff more time to focus on such matters as baseball field maintenance.

The department is hoping to enhance its fields so that it might increase income from baseball and softball by possibly hosting local or area tournaments.

Maintenance Director Kevin Smith said his current crew is “too limited” to take care of its weekday duties and then handle extra weekend chores. To aid in solving that problem, Frazier suggested that coaches help in weekend field preparation and maintenance. Also, the committee voted to recommend the hiring of an “experienced part-timer” for weekend duties.

The committee agreed that a “more detailed scope of work” should be developed before seeking cleaning service bids for restrooms being constructed at Regional Park and the Coretta Scott King Center.