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Softball fields put on hold in Springdale’s new park lineup

February 11, 2019

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Members of the Planning Commission were all business recently, but they approved plans for the city’s new playground. They voted 7-0 to accept the plans for Shaw Family Park in the northwest quadrant of the city.

“But there are a few changes to adjust for cost,” Mayor Doug Sprouse told residents gathered in the council chambers. “Some of the costs have come in higher than we expected, and we’ve had to trim.”

The city shared conceptual designs of the park before Springdale voters approved a $19.5 million bond issue in February 2018, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The park bond money will build Shaw park, renovate Randal Tyson park and repair a few others.

Sprouse said the city’s recent $4.4 million purchase of the former All-Star Sports Arena didn’t affect the budget at Shaw. Before the bond vote, he said the city planned to spend about $10 million for Shaw park. The arena will serve residents as its new recreation center.

Four adult softball fields planned for the southeast corner of Shaw park have been put on hold, Sprouse said. The area will be developed as green space.

The ball fields remain in the plan for future development.

By eliminating the ball fields less space will be required for parking along County Line Road — another cost reduction, Sprouse said.

Other cuts under consideration include building three tennis courts instead of four and perhaps reducing boardwalks over water features, Sprouse said.

The four ponds planned for Shaw park mean more than a peaceful place to sit and maybe some fishing. The structures will serve double duty as drainage retention for the park and Cottages at the Park subdivision planned immediately east of the Shaw.

“We need the water for our water features,” Sprouse said.

A tributary of Brush Creek runs through the area of the park, explained Brad Baldwin, director of the city’s engineering department. That tributary serves as the natural collection and runoff route for the surrounding flood plain. That plain reaches its high point east of Downum Road near the Arkansas Law Enforcement and Training Academy and flows downhill to the west.

Engineers from Engineering Services Inc. designed the park’s water features. The company also was contracted by developers to design the Cottages at the Park subdivision, which will border Shaw park on the east.

The engineers designed the subdivision so all of its storm water runoff will channel into the park’s retention ponds, Baldwin explained.

Baldwin called the concept “regional drainage,” adding it’s a requirement for construction in Springdale and the standard in many other areas of the country. The city requires areas of water retention — whether above or below ground — for all construction projects, he added.

The ponds always will hold about 5 feet of water for recreational use, Baldwin said, but will capture more when storms hit.

The retention ponds will include drainage structures on their floors, with pipes to channel the water as it leaves the pond — Baldwin likened it to a bath tub with a drain.

If the region experiences a 100-year storm — defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a storm that drops 9 inches of rain in 24 hours — the retention ponds will overflow, Baldwin admitted.

“But they will retain quite a bit more water before they do,” he added.

The ponds also will be built with spillways to add more control to water release during overflows, he said.

The Camelot neighborhood in Elm Springs sits immediately west and immediately downstream from the park and Cottages. The Brush Creek tributary runs alongside King Arthur Drive and through the front yards of many homes in the development.

Camelot experienced flooding when heavy spring rains two years ago filled the watershed throughout Northwest Arkansas. Residents of that subdivision have voiced concern that the development of the park and Cottages would add to their problems.

“They’ve asked what we are going to do about them,” Baldwin said. “Well, this is what we’re going to do for them.

“We can’t promise we’ll improve their problem, but this won’t make it worse. And we hope this will make it better.”

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Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com

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