The Conway City Council will meet on Tuesday night to approve a design contract for renovations to Curtis Walker Park, including a new special needs youth baseball field.
Councilman David Grimes and Conway resident Jeff Matthews have led efforts to raise private money for the special needs youth baseball field at the park, and Grimes said that he’s "confident that we’ll pay 100 percent of that cost in private money."
The Conway Parks Department is currently renovating Curtis Walker Park, which mostly involves building a new concession stand/restroom/equipment storage building. The overall cost of renovating the park is expected to be about $300,000, according to Jack Bell, city chief of staff. This cost will be paid using Conway Parks and Recreation Department money, which is generated separately from the city’s general fund and other city funds, including the street fund, and can only be used for parks projects.
The special needs field, to be named Braves Field in honor of the Conway Braves special needs team, will be made of a modular synthetic material designed to accommodate wheelchairs. The field itself will also cost about $300,000 in privately raised money, Grimes said, and should require little maintenance and last "for decades."
The council will vote on entering a contractual agreement with engineering firm White-Dates & Associates for design and engineering, which is expected to cost $48,500 in Conway Parks and Recreation Department money. The cost of engineering is separate from the cost of actual construction.
An adult baseball field at the park that has served as home field for the Conway Dodgers semipro baseball team and used for American Legion and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) leagues and high school teams has been largely renovated by volunteers using the local Lowes Hardware store’s donations of labor and materials.
Also, a youth football field at the park, Peyton Hillis Field, has served as home for Conway Optimist Football and has been maintained by that organization. The city will probably use parks department money to build a new press box for the football field, according to Bell.
A planned second phase of the renovation is building a playground designed to accommodate special needs children. Grimes said that this playground is planned to include a swingset that a wheelchair-bound child can use. This phase will also probably include expanding the parking lot.
When the special needs field is finished, the Conway Parks Department will take over running the city’s special needs baseball league. Grimes said in a recent post to the Conway Braves facebook.com page that the league would be open to anyone, regardless of where they are from, and that while a nominal fee to cover the costs of things like hats and jerseys will be required "I can promise you that NO ONE will be turned away for inability to pay," and that league organizers "will find a way to cover the cost for your child."
In other business, the council will consider 2014’s annual bids for materials and services needed next year for Conway Street Department operations.
Bids were received from several companies after the open bidding process, and the low bidder recommended by street department officials for all contracts except gravel.
The Rogers Group, a local supplier of gravel, submitted the low bid, but the department recommended the second-lowest bidder because alleged defects in gravel supplied by Rogers Group have resulted in erosion of a part of the West Tyler Street roadway. The department has recommended that Rogers Group gravel not be used until this West Tyler Street situation is resolved. Webco, a gravel supplier based in El Paso, Arkansas, was the second-lowest bidder.
Also on the agenda are ordinances accepting reimbursement/restitution from various entities for the Conway Police Department and rebate funds for the Conway Animal Welfare Department and considerations to accept next year’s fitness center memberships for city employees and approve monthly financials.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)