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Repairs in progress at North Little Rock Burns Park

Financial officer says city is still waiting on federal tornado relief funds for site by Paige Eichkorn | September 19, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.
Work to repair damage from the March 31 tornado continues in Burns Park as seen from this Monday, Sept. 18, 2023 aerial photo. Contractors and personnel with the North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Administration have been working for months to restore Burns Park from the March 31 tornado which destroyed large swaths of the popular destination. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)

Burns Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, has yet to receive any aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the March tornado, North Little Rock Chief Financial Officer Ember Strange said Monday.

"It is in the review process," Strange said.

Repairs are underway after Crowder Gulf, a debris removal company, completed their work.

Officials provided a recent update for residents in the city's magazine, NLR PROUD 2023 Fall Issue, summarizing the major areas damaged by the tornado and which parts are opening soon.

Funland, a local favorite attraction in the park, sustained significant damage. All rides except the train were deemed unsafe and irreparable by the city and were removed. A few other structures within Funland will have to be repaired or replaced, the city said.

The train was found to be rideable, but its tracks were thrown off by the tornado and will require the replacement of several pieces.

In order to commemorate the mini amusement park's history, pieces of old rides like the helicopters, cars and carousel were salvaged and will be included in future plans for the park, the update noted.

The city's completion schedule includes:

Fence replacement and repairs at the damaged baseball and softball fields.

Demolition and replacement of pavilions.

Restroom building at the dog park.

One Heart playground repairs.

Tennis court fencing and shade repairs.

Demolition of the Woman's Club by the Hospitality House.

The city reminded residents that areas of the soccer complex and roads within the park were heavily damaged as a result of the complex being home to their debris management site for weeks following the tornado.

Reconstruction of the roads began earlier this month. South of the interstate, roads require major repairs in several areas around the soccer complex, the BMX Track, RV Park, the archery range, the Boy Scouts area and the equestrian trail area.

The new Burns Park Fire Station #8, which sustained "substantial" damage from the tornado, is still undergoing repairs and is expected to reopen in October, according to the city.

What residents can expect to open soon:

New pickleball courts.

Funland Drive and Joe K. Poch Road.

Arlene Laman Drive.

Soccer Complex.

"Please know 'our park,' the one we knew as a child, teen, young and older adult is gone," the city said in conclusion. "But we now have a chance to make it a newer park with new memories."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article listed incorrect information on the status of Burns Park Fire Station #8.

Print Headline: Repairs in progress at NLR Burns Park


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