Park Ave. inches closer to getting splash pad in David F. Watkins Park
Park Avenue is the oldest neighborhood in Hot Springs. Rich in history and cherished by many, the Park Avenue Community Association (PACA) works tirelessly to revitalize the area that has experienced decline as a result of development elsewhere in the city*. Yet this week, PACA has something to celebrate: $30,000 has been added to the fund for a long-awaited splash pad to be built in David F. Watkins Memorial Park**.
Over the course of a week, PACA was granted $10,000 from the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund, $10,000 from the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation and another $10,000 from an anonymous donor for the purpose of building the splash pad at the park. Within the past two months, about $40,000 total has been raised for the pad that is estimated to cost $100,000.
The park was the idea of previous City Manager David Watkins, who championed for the revitalization of Park Ave. prior to his passing. It took the place of the then-dilapidated Kloss Motel. The park, which currently has a full playground set, has been funded by community and Civitan Club donations. It has also been constructed through the pro bono work of local architect Taylor Kempke and B&F Engineering. The idea for a splash pad has been there from the beginning of the park’s establishment in 2013, but has not had an influx in funding until now. It will be the final touch to the park.
PACA Board of Directors Chair Cindy Rogers said something like a splash pad is a “magnet” for kids, which is what they want.
“We have a historic neighborhood, we are quaint, and we are just attracting people like crazy, and that’s what we want,” Rogers said.
“We’re the oldest neighborhood in this city,” she continued. “We have the most historic structures, we have a quaint, cool neighborhood, we’ve got lots of diversity and we want to keep it that way. … We want people to take pride in their neighborhood and have the resources our community needs.”
With slightly over halfway left to go in the funding, PACA, which is a 501(c)(3), will continue to take tax-deductible donations to reach its goal. For more information and donation opportunities, contact Briana Moore at 501-318-8871.
Other revitalization efforts made by PACA have been the addition of bus stops, flashing crosswalk signs, lamp posts, renewed sidewalks, a rain garden and a community garden.
*One major developmental factor in the attention shift was the addition of Highway 270 in the 60’s, allowing people to enter Hot Springs through West Grand Ave., rather than Park Ave.
**David F. Watkins Memorial Park is located at 811 Park Ave.