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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Thursday, January 3, 2008
CITY OF LITTLE ROCK REDEDICATES FLETCHER PARK
Park Named in Memory of Local Youth Who Died in 1969
(January 3, 2008 -- Little Rock, AR) On a cold, blustery day, City leaders and residents of the Capital Hill neighborhood gathered to rededicate Fletcher Park following an expansion and upgrade to the park. Joining the gathering was the family of the late Alan Fletcher--an area youth who died in 1969, around the time the park was originally being constructed.
“Today, we are honoring the memory of Alan Fletcher,” said Mayor Mark Stodola. “But we are also paying tribute to his father Don Fletcher who helped raise money for this park in 1969.”
Alan Fletcher was a Little Rock youth who died of a viral infection only a month after his 9th birthday. The Little Rock School District turned down a request to name a ball field at Fletcher’s School, McDermott Elementary, in his memory. Don Fletcher, Alan’s father, then set his sights on a new park the City was creating. The Parks and Recreation Department staff thought it was a good idea, and so Mr. Fletcher donated the $3,010 that had been given in memorials for Alan.
According to Parks and Recreation Director Truman Tolefree, a plaque that was installed at the 1969 dedication disappeared shortly thereafter. As neighbors moved in and out in the intervening years, people forgot who the Park commemorated. Parks and Recreation Department records have not always indicated the naming source for parks, either.
Fletcher Park sits at the gateway to the Capital Hill, Stephens, and Wright Avenue neighborhoods on Woodrow south of I-630. For years, few people used the park for recreation. “It was built at a time when staff did not always seek community input in designing a park,” said Tolefree. “Quite frankly, it really did not meet the needs of the neighbors. When a park doesn’t meet the needs, few people use it—and then it spirals down after that. In time, not only was Alan Fletcher forgotten, but in many ways Fletcher Park was forgotten.”
“With the 2004 Bond program, the City wanted to revitalize this park. The neighborhood had ideas about expansion and upgrades, and we were glad to listen,” said Mark Webre who leads the design division of the Parks and Recreation Department. “It is exciting when City staff and residents can sit down together and plan for a park’s future.
The Capital Hill neighbors have been wonderful partners on this project. They have truly made this ‘their’ park. Because it meets their needs, it is used all of the time now.”
The size of the expanded Fletcher Park is nearly double the original size. The park contains a new pavilion with picnic tables, a basketball court, a playground, a ball field, and greenspace. There was nearly $100,000 from the 2004 Capital Bond program that was used to pay for the expansion and upgrades.
As part of the rededication, a new plaque and memorial to Fletcher have been installed in the park.
“I know that in 1969, the plaque was stolen shortly after it was installed, and in time the community forgot who the Park was named after. I am committed to history and historic preservation,” stated Mayor Stodola. “To the family of Alan Fletcher and to this neighborhood, let me assure you, this will not happen again.”