Skate park may be in Pine Bluff’s future

A skate park may be in Pine Bluff’s future, without any initial expense to the city.

The city’s parks and recreation commission, meeting in a regular session Tuesday night, authorized a local group to initiate a process to obtain city council approval for the facility, which is proposed for an old batting cages site at Regional Park. More than 120 signatures from citizens interested in the park’s creation have been collected, and more than 50 pledges for financial and/or material support have been made, according to a group spokesperson.

It’s possible that grant monies could also be applied to the skate park.

The request to “get the ball rolling” drew enthusiastic backing from the commission. The panel — with member Carson Fields absent — gave a unanimous nod. Alderman Steven Mays and Evelyn Horton — Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s administrative assistant — applauded the commission’s decision.

Horton called the notion “wonderful” and added that she wished she could have helped open the council process with a vote. Horton is not a member of the commission but frequently attends its meetings.

Mays, also an observer, called the proposed park “the kind of thing that Pine Bluff needs.”

The commission also granted unanimous favor to allowing another unnamed group to utilize Regional Park. This group intends to conduct a Memorial Day weekend event that will include children’s activities and a car show.

Admission will be charged and “a portion” of any proceeds will be donated to the CASA Women’s Shelter here.

Lloyd Franklin, an event organizer, said his group is considering seeking a beer and wine permit but assured that the event would be well-controlled with security provided by local law enforcement officers. Franklin pledged that the group would clean the event site after its completion.

In other business, commissioners:

• Voted unanimously to restrict parks and recreation department employees from addressing work-related issues on social media sites;

• Decided department employees would not be held to a dress code included in the city’s employee handbook, as had been suggested for discussion;

• Approved several minor budget adjustments; and

• Delayed action on a request from Rev. Jesse Turner of the Interested Citizens for Voter Registration organization concerning leasing the Coretta Scott King Center in Martin Luther King Park. The facility had been rented by the Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas at $600 a month, but will be vacated by May 15. The commission wants to consider a possibility of a rent increase,

Several farmers market vendors addressed the commission, seeking clarification on opening and closing dates of the Lake Saracen activity. It was agreed upon that the farmers market would continue through October after opening in May, but an opening celebration will not occur until June 1.