GREENBRIER — Three years after city officials held the first public hearing for input about a new city park, they held a soft opening for Matthews Park and announced Monday evening that it was now ready for all to enjoy.
“We’ve been working on this for three years. We had to ask people to vote for a tax to make it happen. Nobody wanted to do that, but we made a promise that people would be impressed with it was done,” city attorney Dustin Chapman told the Log Cabin Democrat. “We think it’s impressive.”
Greenbrier City Council members along with other park partners and their families were invited to a soft opening Monday evening to celebrate the completion of Phase I to Matthews Park
Though crews are working to complete entrance signage, Matthews Park officially opened to the public Tuesday morning. The word got around fast, and several families were already enjoying time at the splash pad by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The 55-acre park features an all-inclusive playground area, a fishing pond that will be stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, a skate park and a splash pad.
Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick smiled as he turned the water on at the splash pad for the first time Monday evening.
Immediately, children rushed over and started to splash from one pool of water into the next before running back over to the jungle-gym area.
Twelve-year-old Kimberly Lewis put her gymnastics training to the test as she performed handstands across the splash pad area during the soft opening event.
Greenbrier resident Brianna Jackson attended the event with her 2-year-old son, Larsen.
Larsen made his way back and forth through the water rings at the splash pad as his mother watched from the sidewalk. The Greenbrier mother said she expects to spend a lot of time at the park in the coming years.
“I think the park is beautiful,” she said. “This is perfect for families, and it’s nice to have something close to home instead of having to drive to Conway. The way the park is set up is perfect.”
The park is open daily from dawn until dusk.
Those who use the skate park are required to wear a helmet at all times. Officials also recommend skaters wear elbow pads, knee pads and other protective gear.
Children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult while at the splash pad, and pets are not allowed in the splash pad.
The pond will be stocked with bass, crappie and catfish during the summer months. During the winter months, the AGFC will stock the pond with trout.
The park also features a three-quarter-mile walking trail. Mayor Hartwick said the trail will be fully lit up at night to help keep park-goers safe.
Matthews Park, located off Highway 65 between MoJo’s Hometown Pizza and Steak ’n Shake, is a three phase project. Later phases include adding an amphitheater to the heart of the park, basketball courts and more.
The Greenbrier mayor said he was thankful residents supported they city’s plan to make improvements to the fire station and create the new park when the sales-tax proposal was made.
Greenbrier residents OK’d a 1 percent sales and use tax in 2018 to help fund the two city projects, which included 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 park-related improvements.
“This is y’all’s park,” Hartwick said Monday.