My last #GetOutside article was a cautiously optimistic review of Fifth Avenue Park’s potential. Airport Park is just down the street, so I decided that would make a logical next destination in my scavenger hunt of Conway’s parks.
At six acres, Airport Park is a little larger than what I think of as a pocket park, but it’s pretty small in the grand scheme of neighborhood parks.
The City’s Parks and Rec department’s website (conwayparks.com) seems to be out of date in its description of Airport Park’s amenities. It does have a softball field with two serviceably covered dugouts, a few swings, and a few benches, but the sea-saws, grill, and picnic tables mentioned on their site seem to have disappeared. The basketball goal is still there, however it is installed on the end of a parking lot – right next to a vehicle entrance. Not mentioned on their site, but important for any visitors, there is a port-a-pottie on site, but no running water.
Airport Park’s address is 425 6th Street – just across the street from the Central Landing construction site. I’m a little confused on why it has two parking lots, but I was pleased to see a small amount of bike parking.
I had a feeling that the planned re-construction of 6th Street and the potential of Central Landing have had an impact on the lack of investment in both Airport Park and Fifth Avenue Park, so I reached out to Mayor Townsell to find out.
The mayor’s response was wonderfully expedient and confirmed my suspicions. With the two parks being so close, there’s a potential that one of the two will be sold for re-development as property values increase due to improved infrastructure and the Central Landing development. This would mean even more funds available to be reinvested in a park for the Fifth and Third Avenue neighborhoods.
Obviously, I’m looking at the “long game” for our City’s parks. Right now, Airport Park has a lot of issues – there isn’t any fencing around the play area, the basketball goal is placed at the entrance to a parking lot, there’s no running water, etc – but it’s still an outdoor space that can be used and loved.
The best thing we can do to hold Conway accountable in its reinvestment in our neighborhood parks is to use them and be vocal to Conway Parks and Recreation, our mayor, and our council members on what they are and aren’t fulfilling for us.