By Ethan Nahté
The Western Arkansas Planning & Development District (WAPDD) came to Mena on May 31 for a Town Hall meeting at City Hall. Tracee McKenna, community development for WAPDD, and Michael Rosenberg, marketing and communications for WAPDD, were on hand to discuss possibilities for projects and improvements for Mena’s outdoor activities for a 50/50 matching grant that relates to outdoor activities.
McKenna said, “The city had approached me about an Outdoor Recreation grant through the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. One of the requirements of that grant application is a public meeting.”
The goal is to find qualifying viable plans that fall within the guidelines for a grant worth up to $250,000 from ADPHT. Any money awarded would have to be equally matched by the city. If granted the full amount, it would come to a total of $500,000. If the project costs more than $500,000, the balance would be the responsibility of the City.
WAPDD and McKenna were already beneficial in Mena receiving the $296,000 ARDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant that is being utilized to continue the Mena Street streetscape, which includes sidewalk enhancement and the additional sidewalks being put in place, painting of the crosswalks and parking spaces, and other improvements.
Members of the City in attendance were Becky Horton, Linda Rexroad, Mary Alice Head and Terri Neugent.
Notice: The Town Hall was for board members and the public to provide input and opinions to WAPDD. None of the following information should be considered a final decision.
The top priority was the possibility of a new pool with new bath houses for changing, or a new pool house at the existing pool.
Neugent said, “I know there’s been talk, possibly of a new swimming pool at a new location.” She also noted a splash pad next to the pool would be beneficial.
Neugent mentioned, “Tapley Park has expanded, and continues to. We have tennis courts underway and volleyball. We’re extending our field to allow adults to have the size they need to have and 13- and 14-year-olds. We’re getting a bigger soccer field.
“We’ve newly graveled the parking lot with bumper stops and lining so it won’t be chaotic out there and will be uniform.”
All agreed that the McMillan Park pool, which they believed opened in 1974, needed renovating or updating at the very least.
Head said, “It’s quite expensive to keep it updated. People depend upon it for lessons.”
Area seniors use it for therapeutic exercise classes, birthday parties, and it makes for a safe place to play for the general public.
Neugent said, “The community suffers when something goes wrong, and it has to be repaired. We’ve tried to stay on top of that.”
The discussion wavered between placing a new pool and splash pad at Tapley, or a new pool at Tapley while using MacMillan Park for the splash pad or keeping the pool at MacMillan and adding a splash pad at the same location.
There was also discussion about the new skate park that is in the process of being built, playgrounds at the various parks, the need for more sidewalks to improve safety to get to the parks, pavilions, and the issue with the dirt run-off from the baseball fields to the pool area at MacMillan Park.
The City may launch a questionnaire, poll or something equivalent on social media before long to gather more input from the community.
McKenna said, “The grant application is due at the end of August. Over the next two and half months, the City needs to look at the cost of the rehabilitation of the current pool versus the cost of a new pool and how those things compare, and where the additional funds outside the grant will come from. Those kinds of things need to be discussed and worked out among the City. Then we’ll finalize the grant application. We won’t know about the grant application rewards until probably December.”