Parks and Recreation Department’s commemorative tree program okayed by Commision

By Martin Couch

For a payment of $250 to the Bryant Parks and Recreation Department, a resident can buy a commemorative tree as a sapling and have it planted in any of the Bryant city parks with their name or names on one of two leaf plaques that will be displayed in the new Bryant Community Center at Bishop Park.

“Programs like this are available all over the country,” Bryant Parks and Recreation Department director Jeremy Lemons said. “It’s pretty well known and we’d like to start getting this recognized at our Open House at Bishop Park in July.”[more]

Those interested will have their choice of a Pin Oak, Black Gum, Sawtooth Oak, Nuttall Oak, Shumard Oak or an improved Loblolly Pine. The commemorative, bronzed-leaf plaques will come in either a French curve or standard styles in small or larger sizes.

“This is a pretty good direction we’re going in with this,” said Parks and Recreation Department’s Ken Palmquist. “I’m really pleased with what we have here. It’s a real good program and we’re excited about it.”

The payment covers the purchase of one of the types of trees from the Parks and Recreation Tree Farm and the style of leaf chosen will be engraved. Parks and Recreation will decide on the location of the tree to be planted and the donor will be notified of its approximate location.

“What we’ll do is put the person’s name or whoever buys the tree and put the GPS coordinates of the tree location on it,” Lemons said. “We’ll plant it in any park they choose and we have 400 trees in at our tree farm right now. We’ll decide where it is.”

Lemons said the Parks and Recreation Department buys saplings through the Urban Forestry Commission of Arkansas.

“One thing we’ve also talked about was to maybe sell 100 trees and possibly build a comparative pavilion in the park,” he said. “We want to use this money for our parks and the dedicated pavilions is a recent idea we’ve kicked around. One goal we are looking at was getting the approval of the Bryant Parks and Recreation Commission to begin this project at our Open House during our walkthrough at the new community center.”

Every attempt will be made to maintain the trees for a long life, but no guarantees are made or implied that the tree will be replaced if it dies from natural causes, disease or damage.

“Hopefully, we are planning to do another tree order in January and I will be looking to add to what we have existing,” Palmquist said. “Trees die sometimes and you just can’t help it.”

There are 76 trees available presently that are ready to be planted at the tree farm.

The Parks Commission members, Larry Turpin, Danny Huber, Casey McJunkin, Beth Hipps, Sandy Miller and Gerald Carr passed the Commemorative Tree plan unanimously in Monday night’s meeting.

In old business, the progress on Bishop Park discussion was highlighted by the addition of Allied Waste sponsorship to all trash cans within the parks, which is valued over $100,000 and Daktronics has gotten Landers Auto Sales, Heartland Bank, Pepsi Cola and Allied Waste to sponsor the scoreboards on the baseball and softball fields.

“The fields are to be sprigged out by the end of June and hopefully by September all 15 of them will be complete,” said Lemons.

Bids for fencing around the park will be open next Tuesday and taken to the Bryant City Council on July 8 for approval.

“We’re leaning toward a vinyl black coating on the fences,” Lemons said.

And the new Bryant Community Center is in the current stages of the “final touch up” process. It is expected to be open for a walkthrough tour the weekend of the Bryant Family Festival, which will also be held at Bishop Park for the July 4th celebratory weekend.

In other news, the pool area decking will be poured this week and all of the aquatics are expected to be finished by the end of August, according to Lemons’ report to the committee.

Congratulations were extended to Onot Tunot, who currently coaches the Bryant Barracudas of the Central Arkansas Swim League, who has been named the aquatics director for Bishop Park and Luke Neal who was hired on as the park’s program coordinator.

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