Newest Improvement in Little Rock’s Riverfront Park Is Officially Open
(Thursday, June 26, 2008) – After the speeches were concluded, the adventures began as children burst through a paper banner to officially dedicate Peabody Park, the newest feature of Little Rock’s Julius Breckling Riverfront Park. Subtitled “An Adventure in Play,” Peabody Park was designed by kids for kids and provides a space for children to climb, tumble, roll, explore, tunnel, and splash in the heart of Little Rock’s downtown.
The Peabody Little Rock partnered with the City of Little Rock to provide $250,000 over the next five years to fund renovations to Riverfront Park. The donation is the most recent among gifts given from various businesses and individuals during the last four years.
“Riverfront Park could not undergo such an extensive renovation without the support of businesses like The Peabody Little Rock,” said Little Rock City Director Dr. Dean Kumpuris. “They have been very generous with this gift to our city. I am grateful to Bruce Burrow and Marty Belz along with Gregg Herning and the Peabody Little Rock family for making this possible.”
“I also want to thank the men and women who worked tirelessly for months to build this park,” continued Dr. Kumpuris. “The design, construction, and maintenance staffs of Parks and Recreation have been working tirelessly on this during all types of temperatures and weather conditions. The dedication and care they have shown this project is the commitment they show every day of the year to serving the citizens of Little Rock. It has been my honor to work side by side with them on this project.”
"We're honored to be a part of the greater renovation of Riverfront Park," said Gregg Herning, general manager of The Peabody Little Rock. "It's great to see children exploring Peabody Park, knowing that this unique park is the result of a community-wide effort. We know residents and visitors will enjoy it for years to come."
Joining Little Rock Parks & Recreation and the Peabody Little Rock in making Peabody Park a reality were Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics; the Jack Fleischauer family; and Riverfest, Inc.
Peabody Park, the new children’s adventure playground at Riverfront Park’s epicenter, is designed to facilitate imaginative play, with green space, tunnels, a tube slide, a climbing wall, a splash fountain, a spacenet and a “tree room.” The new, elevated Ozark Pavilion overlooks the play area and splash fountain.
“This is a great day for children of all ages,” said Little Rock Parks and Recreation Commission Chair William “Bill” Cobb. “Parks are about fun, about connecting with nature and connecting with other people; they are about exercise and both vigorous and passive activity. Peabody Park provides all of this.”
Previous donations to Riverfront Park have included gifts from Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Heart Clinic Arkansas and St. Vincent Health Systems to build the “Medical Mile” segment of the Arkansas River Trail that runs between the River Market pavilion and the Baring Cross Bridge.
“As we are building a City in a Park, Little Rock Parks & Recreation is seeking opportunities for partnerships and innovation. Peabody Park is a perfect example of both,” commented Parks and Recreation Director Truman Tolefree.
Improvements to the west of Peabody Park have already been made, including extensive upgrades to the Belvedere and the creation of two gardens. To better equip it for special events, the Belvedere was repainted and given a new native stone patio and lighting, as well as surrounding landscaping that offers a small grass amphitheatre near the structure.
The “Forever a Rose” Garden overlooking the Arkansas River features a bronze sculpture by artist Denny Haskew. The Jack Fleischauer Garden, located along the Arkansas River Trail just behind The Peabody, features native grasses and plants. It was named in memory of longtime Little Rock banker Jack Fleischauer who helped create the garden and made substantial donations to many projects in Riverfront Park.
Renovations to the east of Peabody Park are underway as well. The History Pavilion has been expanded and will be upgraded. It overlooks what will later be a redeveloped area surrounding “La Petite Roche,” the “little rock” that inspired the city’s name.
Natural wetland areas will flank the park’s river border as part of the William E. Clark Presidential Park Wetlands, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is slated to open within the park later this year.
The City of Little Rock started acquiring land for a future park along the Arkansas River in the late 1960s. Riverfront Park was established as a city park in 1982. Soon after it was built, its location attracted Riverfest to the location. In 1986, Riverfest Amphitheatre was built to house concerts and other special events, and the River Market district followed in 1996.
Little Rock Parks and Recreation (LRPR) oversees 53 parks, four community centers, the Adult Leisure Center, the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center, four swimming pools, two tennis centers, the River Market, the Riverfest Amphitheatre, three golf courses and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The agency also administers the urban forestry program and offers a catering service. The LRPR system includes more than 5,000 acres of designated parks and open space.
In addition, the organization offers a wide range of youth and adult recreational and sports leagues, after-school and summer playground programs for children ages 6-15, outdoor recreation, therapeutic recreation and programs for seniors. LRPR, which employs more than 350 dedicated and experienced people, is one of 66 organizations in the United States to be accredited through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies through the National Recreation and Park Association.
Through collaborations with citizens, community organizations and corporate and government entities, LRPR is working to make Little Rock a “City in a Park.”
The Peabody Little Rock is a Four-Diamond, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence property of Peabody Hotels within the portfolio of Peabody Hotel Group.
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