Developing the land at Riverside Park and making some of the city’s playgrounds more handicap accessible were two possible uses for Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism grant money mentioned by Searcy Parks and Recreation Director Mike Parsons if the city applies for and receives the grant.

Parsons said the city has been very fortunate over the past 15 years to be awarded the grants. At tonight’s Searcy City Council meeting, a resolution will be voted on authorizing the city to submit an application for obtaining the outdoor recreation grant funding assistance.

“It can be used for outdoor recreation and development, things of that nature. It can be playground, land,” Parsons said of the grant. “What we are doing right now is just asking the council to let us have permission to apply for that grant.

“The mayor and I normally go to Jacksonville and make our presentation in October and probably around February 2022, we will find out if we get it.”

Parsons said being in the early stages of this grant, it’s hard to talk about the amount but for the 50/50 grant, the city would have to pay half and the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism would pay the other half.

As far as the possible projects for the grant money, Parsons said “right now we are trying to develop the land at Riverside Park that was purchased. To go along with that grant, they like when you think up other areas of playground, so we are going to look at some more handicap accessibility to some of the playgrounds we have and to replace some of our older material as well as put more impact surfacing in throughout the four of our parks.”

In February of last year, the City Council approved the last $50,000 needed to acquire 49.02 acres adjacent to Riverside Park after the Searcy Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission had contributed $50,000 plus closing fees.

The Searcy Regional Economic Development Corp. had purchased the land for $400,963.68 through private donations in hopes that it could be combined with Riverside Park to make it a 147-acre park. The SREDC was willing to sell it to the city for $300,000, Osborne said and even put in $50,000. A 50/50 grant from Arkansas State Parks for $150,000 provided the rest of the funding. Osborne said that money was just to acquire the land. Parsons said the acreage purchased is just north of Berryhill Park and runs along the bypass.

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