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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421

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Contact(s):Sharon Priest
501-375-0121

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MacArthur Park Fundraiser Set for Thursday, October 30

LITTLE ROCK—A special Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre is planned for Thursday, October 30 at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Sponsored by the MacArthur Park Group and spearheaded by Downtown Little Rock Partnership, the fundraiser will raise the final monies needed to reach its goal of $105,000 for completion of the Master Plan to upgrade MacArthur Park from a Class C park to a Class A park.

“This is an exciting moment for us,” said Sharon Priest, executive director of Downtown Little Rock Partnership. “The completion of the Master Plan for the Park is the direct result of a group of interested citizens and stakeholders who have been meeting every week for two years with the sole focus of making a piece of Downtown Little Rock, MacArthur Park, a better place for all of us. It is a perfect example of what can happen when the private and public sectors work together.”

Historically, MacArthur Park was part of a trade in 1892 of the Tower Building and other arsenal property owned by the federal government in exchange for 1000 acres in North Little Rock (later to become Fort Roots) owned by the City of Little Rock. The condition of the exchange was that the arsenal property be “forever exclusively devoted to the uses and purposes of a public park.” The building and its grounds were first called City Park. Today MacArthur Park is now home to the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History (the Tower Building), Arkansas Arts Center, the Firehouse Museum and Hostel, and the Arkansas Korean War Veterans Memorial.

In August 2006, an informal group of stakeholders started getting together every Friday morning to discuss how MacArthur Park could be upgraded to a Class A park and jump start revitalization of the MacArthur Park Historic District. In the short time the group has been meeting they have accomplished:

Ø Organizing two park clean-up days with over 110 people volunteering each time.

Ø Raising $101,500 toward a Master Plan for the park and surrounding area.

Ø Hiring, in collaboration with the City of Little Rock, an architectural consulting group to create the Master Plan. The first two public meetings were each attended by about 100 people. The final plan is expected to be presented at the next public meeting November 10 at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.

Ø Development of a Museum, Art and Heritage Trail connecting the River Market District to the MacArthur Park Historic District, and this year adding an audio component, the new Arkansas Political History tour. This was accomplished with the help of a $1600 grant from Arkansas Heritage and $195 raised by the MacArthur Park 5K that resulted in a $30,000 product.

Ø Creation of a 5K on May 9, 2008 and netting $1421. This money will be used to begin a fund for implementation and maintenance of ideas proposed in the Master Plan. The next 5K will be May 1, 2009.

Ø Support from the City of Little Rock toward implementation of capital improvements for the park in the amount of $150,000 from a parks bond refinancing.

The Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre will begin at 6 p.m. and the cost is $50 per person. Dinner is donated by Simply the Best, Best Impressions, Ben E. Keith and Moon Distributors. The public is encouraged to attend although seating is limited. For reservations or more information call the Downtown Little Rock Partnership at 501-375-0121 or email spriest@downtownlr.com. MacArthur Museum is located at 503 E. 9th Street in Downtown Little Rock.

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