Wayne Fogel (r) covers Keith Richards during a pick-up game of basketball at Lee Street Park in Jonesboro. A majority of respondents to the city's park survey have called for the popular courts' elimination.
JONESBORO Quiet and still or full of the laughter of children at play? An amphitheater or a basketball court?
These are the questions Jonesboro will have to answer about Lee Street Park next week.
The city will hold its second public input meeting on the park’s future Monday at 6 p.m. at the Jonesboro Police Department headquarters at 170 South Main St. Mayor Joy Day said the meeting will give attendees a chance to offer their thoughts on what should be in the park.
“One of the things we have to do before we can do any design is decide on the major elements of the park — if we want a wide walking track, if we want more trees, if we want a built-up area where people can sit,” said Day.
This will be the first public input meeting on the park’s refurbishment since a community interest survey was completed. Only 19 people responded and Mayor Joy Day has repeatedly said she wants to see more residents, community group representatives, business owners and employees chime in on the park before any decisions are made.
About 4,747 people live in Jonesboro, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate. Because of that, Day said she doesn’t feel the limited response to the survey is enough to base decisions upon.
“We’re hoping to get a wider sampling of people,” said Day. “That’s why we’re holding this meeting.”
The one overwhelming statement respondents made through the survey was that an amphitheater should be built, though. However, Day said a second possible location for the stage — Battleground Park on Lake Jodeco Road — has been suggested by residents since then.
“The first thing we’re going to do is discuss the placement of the amphitheater and some possibilities that are open to us as far as a location is concerned,” said Day. “Then, we’re going to show some pictures of parks just to let our audience give us an impression, with a score sheet, about the kinds of visuals they’d like for the park.”
But about half of them also said they wanted the popular basketball courts eliminated. Survey participants said they wanted to see the park’s football and baseball fields eliminated as well. Only the tennis courts, which are not used regularly and have weeds growing through them, got a majority of votes for refurbishment.
Some of the basketball players have argued that eliminating the courts will leave dozens of area kids who play there with nothing to do except cause trouble.
Day said it is important for supporters of the basketball courts to understand they can only get their way if they attend the input meetings and make their voices heard. If they don’t do so now, then the steering committee that will review the input won’t know there is support for keeping the courts and it won’t be included in their recommendation to the city council.
And once the council approves it, nothing is expected to be changed, she said.
“We want everyone to participate, but they have to do a little bit and attend the meetings or do something to show their opposition,” said Day. “Once we make that decision — I mean once the council approves what the steering committee has done — then we are going to move forward.”