Parks budget moves forward

Parks budget moves forward


The Fayetteville parks department will have a slightly smaller budget next year but will also have more than $11 million from a voter-approved bond issue to work with over the next three years.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Nov. 4 approved a $6.2 million budget for operations and some capital projects for the department next year. That’s in addition to a separate, strictly project-based capital budget of about $1 million and ongoing projects totaling nearly $2 million that will go into next year.

The budget for this year was nearly $6.7 million. The separate five-year capital budget is the same every year.

The operations budget, which mostly covers personnel, will be slightly higher next year at more than $5.1 million, compared to nearly $5 million for this year. However, the capital budget for projects next year will be nearly $1.1 million, compared to more than $1.6 million for this year.

Parks Director Connie Edmonston said sales tax revenue for projects is expected to be lower for next year.

“That’s the difference,” she said.

Revenue for parks is derived from three funds — the parks development fund, the city’s general fund and a portion of the sales tax capital fund. The parks development fund is made up mostly of revenue from the city’s 2% hotel, motel and restaurant sales tax, half of which goes to parks. The other half goes toward tourism.

Starting next year, parks staff will implement the first phase of bond projects voters approved in April. The city will have three years to spend about $11 million of the $26 million total bond amount issued for parks.

Ted Jack, park planning superintendent, said the spending of the $11 million should happen fairly evenly over the next three years. The money for some projects, such as nearly $1.8 million allotted to buy Lewis Park from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will be spent early next year. Others, such as nearly $7.9 million to build four new baseball fields with parking at Kessler Mountain Regional Park, will take the entire three years to spend, he said.

Among other bond projects, Gulley Park will get more parking, a splash pad and new playground with $250,000 budgeted. A grant will cover an additional $220,000 of the cost at Gulley. Centennial Park, just northwest of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Interstate 49, is in the drawing phase but has $985,000 attached to it. The Downtown Square will get lighting and electrical enhancements such as outdoor outlets with an $85,000 budget.

Planning a camp site at Lake Sequoyah, originally planned for this year, will wait until next year, Jack said. Next year’s budget includes $82,000 to hire a consultant to study the feasibility and scale of the campgrounds, he said. The voter-approved bond program has $800,000 allotted to build out the campsite.

The study will figure out what will work there, Jack said.

“A lot of it is going to be about the market — what’s going on in RVs and so forth,” he said. “We need somebody who’s really specialized in that.”

The City Council will have to approve the overall budget. The council’s budget session will be Nov. 16.



Bond Projects

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has a number of projects to implement over the next three years stemming from the April 9 bond measure voters approved.

Lewis Park land acquisition — $1,775,000

Kessler Mountain Regional Park baseball fields and parking — $7,870,000

Centennial Park — $985,000

Gulley Park features — $250,000

Stone Mountain Park development — $60,000

Lierly Lane Park development — $60,000

Downtown square enhancements — $85,000

Total — $11,085,000

— Source: City of Fayetteville

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