GENTRY, Ark. (KFSM) — One Northwest Arkansas city is asking voters to approve up to $15 million in bonds to make improvements and expand its park, but the funds won’t come from a new tax. The city wants to utilize funds from an existing tax.
The City of Gentry wants to move its athletic fields to around 29 acres of land the city already owns not far from its current location.
It’s part of the park master plan the city has been working on for several years and by voters approving the bond issue, it will help get this project moving faster.
Out of the 152 people who voted, 121 (80.67%) voted for the bond issue and 29 (19.33%) voted against.
Danny Feemster has lived in Gentry more than 80 years and came out to vote because he thinks having nice parks is important to the quality of life.
“We need them, and it will be nice. A lot of other towns have them and a lot of others are trying to get what we are going to have. Gentry is a great place to live. We’ve been in all 50 states and there is no place like home,” Feemster said.
Mayor Kevin Johnston says there will be some renovations to the existing park, such as building trails and planting trees.
“The removal of some of the athletic fields from that park and we want to turn that park into more of a passive recreational area, so folks can go and read a book and sit under a shade tree or at a picnic table and not have to worry about disc golf,” Johnston said.
Gentry voters approved an additional seven-eights cents sales tax in November of 2018. Johnston says they are now asking to pledge a half-cent of that tax to finance the bonds.
“Whether it be softball, baseball, soccer. We’ve heard that from the community, we’ve also heard there is a desire to have a splash park and so we want to try and make sure we address those concerns, and this is an opportunity to do that," Johnston said. "So, if the voters truly want us to move forward with that, we look for an affirmative vote."
Since the bond was approved, the city plans on applying for matching grants to help offset the cost.