Trails to expand in Craighead Forest in 2019, no plans for second dog park in the coming year

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 294 views 

A tightening budget likely means dreams of a new dog park inside Craighead Forest Park won’t materialize in 2019, but the fourth phase of a trail expansion has received a green light.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation granted the city a $399,000 grant to finish the fourth phase of the Craighead Forest Greenway Trail project in the park and the city will have to provide a 20% match, about $99,750, according to city officials.

The new multi-use trail will connect the park to Fire Station 4 on Harrisburg Road. When completed, the trail will be just north of Rossland Drive, less than a mile from Central Baptist Church. Work on this project is expected to begin sometime next year. Mayor Harold Perrin said he was pleased the city received the grant.

“I think this is a wonderful gift and this trail certainly will tie into our Master Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail Plan,” Perrin said. “It’s great to see this come to life. I am very grateful to our partners – public and private – as well as our city parks, streets and grants departments, which have played a big role in creating this trail for Jonesboro.”

Phase 3, which takes the trail from its initial phases around the park lake to Harrisburg Road, is currently underway. That is adding 4,900 feet to the trail, and it cost $448,000, of which $359,000 came from grants. This new trail connects the back entrance of the park to Harrisburg Road. Previous phases created a 3.2-mile pedestrian/bicycle trail around Craighead Forest Lake and a new road around the north side of the lake with a roundabout entrance.

Dreams of building a new dog park inside the park have been put on hold, Jonesboro Communications Director Bill Campbell told Talk Business & Politics. In November, the city opened its first dog park, the Earl Bell Dog Park, located behind the Earl Bell Center and across from International Studies Elementary School. The area where a swimming pool was once inlayed behind the recreation center has been re-sodded and fenced, and a dilapidated pavilion has been restored for guests to bring their dogs for some off-leash fun.

The park cost $37,000 and was paid for through private donations and bricks were sold. The memorial bricks were sold for $100 a piece and have been used to create sidewalks. Some of the donations were in the form of in-kind labor and materials, such as the fencing. Perrin said at the time he hoped a larger dog park could be built inside Craighead Forest.

The city sales tax collections have set records in recent years, but this year have remained relatively flat. Campbell said there will be no money allocated in the 2019 budget for that project.

Craighead Forest Park was created in 1937 when the Young Men’s Civic Club began work on a lake in the park. The 692-acre park is one of the premiere outdoor recreational facilities in Northeast Arkansas. It’s located on Crowley’s Ridge and offers a broad range of recreational activities.

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