The City plans to turn what some have considered an eyesore for many years into a public space for all by transforming Conway Scrap Metal into a vibrant public park and amphitheater.
Kim Williams, director of Conway Downtown Partnership, said although Conway Scrap Metal has been in Downtown Conway for 40-plus years, the West family realized, with Conway’s changing downtown makeup, they would be a better fit in a more industrial setting.
“I applaud the West Family for their forward thinking and dedication for the next wave of DT development to take hold,” she said.
The latest sketch of plans for the Conway Scrap Metal site shows a programmable park space that could be utilized for farmers markets, outdoor exercise classes and general recreation paired with an amphitheater/retention pond to help with storm water flooding.
Gateway Planning Group, the design consultants for the Markham Street revitalization project, said the Conway Scrap Metal yard took up such a large area, and they wanted to come up with a design that would take advantage of all that space.
“We wanted to make sure it’s not underutilized making it just a park or green space, amphitheater or play ground,” said Brad Lonberger, principal at Gateway Planning Group. “We want to make it multifunctional for different activities throughout the week.”
Lonberger’s inspiration for the scrap yard revitalization is the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, a multimillion dollar renovation of a city block to include a tropical conservatory, dog park, restaurant, children’s splash fountains, as well as multiple performances spaces and park amenities.
“Our recommendation is to help the community and City understand the programming angle,” he said.
The Myriad Botanical Gardens hosts a number of public events such as Shakespeare in the Park, Race for the Cure and a multitude of festivals and concerts.
“The sun is setting on a historic business, but the sun is rising on a new chapter for Markham,” said Scott Grummer, program manager of Community Development for the City of Conway.
Gateway Planning Group will host their last public input meeting after work hours in an open house format at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce on July 28 before they return to submit their final recommendations for Markham Street revitalization later this year.