Greenbrier residents can expect to see two city projects take life in the fall.
Earlier this year, Greenbrier voters OKed a 1 percent sales and use tax to help fund two city projects that include a $2.2 million bond debt to finance the construction of a new fire station and a $3.8 million bond debt to finance park facilities and other related park improvements for Matthews Park.
Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick said these projects have been talked about for quite some time, and now residents will finally see these ideas come to life later this year.
"The architects are already working on the design [for the park]," he said Tuesday, noting the city is "working with Entergy and removing some poles on Ivy Street so we can make a nice, big entrance and exit to the park."
Matthews Park will feature a boulevard-style entrance and exit that can be accessed along Highway 65.
Physical progress will begin in the fall, Hartwick said, noting he expects contractors to break ground in October.
The park will feature an open layout.
"All of our power lines will be underground, so it will be a nice, clean look," Hartwick said. "That's why we're working with Entergy, and they've been really good to us. I was afraid it would be a difficult process, but they've been great."
Hartwick said he expects the park to open up to the public next year, which will give residents the opportunity to enjoy biking and walking trails, scenery, a splash pad and other amenities.
"Next summer, it should be ready to go," he said. "We'll have a slash pad, and the pond will be stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, so we'll be able to sponsor and hold fishing derbies and people can just come out and fish and enjoy themselves."
Matthews Park is a three-phase project.
Phase One, which will include the playground, skate park and a parking area, has been funded through a $250,000 grant by Land Water Conservation funds through an Outdoor Recreation Grant administered by Arkansas State Parks.
The sales tax approved by Greenbrier residents also includes funding for a new fire department.
Fire Chief Tim Tyler has said this is a great need, noting the city is growing and will one day soon convert to a full-time fire department verses its current volunteer role.
The city plans to transition to a full-time, paid fire department within the next few years as the city’s population continues to grow, making improvements to the current fire department a necessity.
As the park will take life in the fall, Hartwick said construction of the new station is tentatively scheduled to begin in October as well.
"The fire station is going to be a beautiful, modern looking building," Hartwick said Tuesday.
While the finished project will serve the city greatly, the fire department will need to divide its trucks along with other needed tools in separate locations pending the new station's completion.
This phase will pose as an inconvenience to the city's firefighters, but Greenbrier residents will not suffer during this temporary transition, Hartwick said.
"We are going to have to move our trucks," he said. "We're looking at moving some to a building in Springhill and others to the north end of town, but as far as response times, it won't affect anything."
The fire station project could take up to a year to complete, Hartwick said.