Lee Street Park changes may require sacrifice

Survey: Dump basketball courts for amphitheater

— Nearly everyone who responded to the city of Jonesboro’s Lee Street Park survey said they wanted it to get an amphitheater, according to tabulated results.

Nineteen people responded to the city’s survey on what should be done at the park. Eighteen of those who responded said they wanted to at least discuss the possibility of adding an outdoor amphitheater, which would be a major shift in the park’s focus. That would seemingly give weight to a push to build an amphitheater at the park for concerts and outdoor movies.

But the results, mailed to Clayton News Daily last week by Mayor Joy Day, reveal the change could come at a cost. Respondents also said three of the park’s four athletic facilities — including its popular basketball courts — should be eliminated.

The surveys were distributed at a June 10 public input meeting and were available at City Hall afterwards for residents to fill out. Day wants more residents to offer input before decisions are made though.

“The survey was just a starting point,” said Day. “We need more voices from our residents before we decide anything. Regardless of which way the public feels about the future of the park, I would like to give as many of a citizens as possible a chance to have their voices heard.”

Day said there will be more public comment meetings held in the future, but dates have not yet been set. The city may put up more signs, including some by the park, to get more residents to offer input.

The survey asked participants for their opinions on what should be done with the football and baseball fields, and the tennis and basketball courts at the park. The options for each facility was refurbish, eliminate and not sure. Sixteen people each voted for the elimination of the football and baseball fields.

The results were more divided on the tennis and basketball courts because of people who said “not sure” about the facilities, though.

The survey split on the courts mirrors a split seen at the public input meeting. Attendees at the meeting were split over the popularity of the basketball courts versus noise concerns. Crowds of people gather daily on the courts, but some residents argue those same crowds are too loud for their comfort.

Ten people voted for the elimination of the basketball courts while five people voted to refurbish them. Four more people could be the swing votes though because they said they were not sure about what should be done with the courts.

Ten people simultaneously voted for the refurbishment of the tennis courts while six people voted to eliminate them. Two people said they were not sure.

Comments were included on the surveys. Participants were asked to omit their names from their responses on the comments so its not clear who said what and whether the respondents actually live in the city.

One respondent said the athletic facilities should be moved to another part of the city. “Make a sports park at Battleground Park — skate park, tennis, basketball, walking and playground,” the person said.

Another person said Lee Street Park should be a “passive park for the citizens of Jonesboro.” The person suggested sacrificing one of the athletic courts to save another.

“If we keep the basketball courts, move to tennis area,” the person wrote. “Storage behind amphitheater. Some water element please.”

Day has not taken a position on whether the basketball courts should be eliminated, moved or refurbished.

“I just want it to be beautifully landscaped and something functional that our residents can use,” said Day. “I’m not locked into what features it should have. I’ll go with whatever the citizens want.”

Below is the results of how participants voted on which features they want to discuss having in the park.

Amphitheater: Eighteen yes votes. No one voted no.

Fountain: Seventeen yes votes. No one voted no.

Walking track: Seventeen yes votes and one no vote.

Park benches: Sixteen yes votes. No one voted no.

Picnic area: Sixteen yes votes and one no vote.

Additional trees: Sixteen yes votes and one no vote.

Large grassy area: Fourteen yes votes and two no votes.

Parking lot changes: Twelve yes votes and three no votes.

Farmer’s market area: Eleven yes votes and four no votes.

Recreation area: Eleven yes votes, three no votes and one “not sure.”

Manmade lake: Eight no votes and six yes votes.

Playground equipment: Nine no votes and four yes votes.