A spokesman for a group of concerned residents of the Northside Community Park area offered the services of the group Tuesday night to the City of Hope to repair two pavilions at the park as the City investigates how, and to what extent, it can restore the Northside Community Park Community Center after a devastating arson fire.
Charles Primus told the Hope City Board of Directors that “concerned citizens” of the Northside Park area had considered asking the City about restoring two picnic pavilions at the park, recognizing that the City had already decided to repair the larger of the two.
Primus said his first concern was the community center.
“Are you going to rebuild the youth center at the park?” he asked.
“We don't have enough information at this time to know what to do,” Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey replied. “We don't know the cost of the damage. That's a decision the board will make.”
City Manager Catherine Cook said that an insurance adjuster had examined the building Tuesday, but she did not know when a report of his findings would be completed. She said Hope police were still investigating the arson fire which damaged most of the kitchen and front interior of the building only two weeks after vandals broke in and destroyed or damaged video games, a water fountain, flooded one room, and vandalized the office and kitchen.
Cook said the building's electrical panel was destroyed in the fire and a portion of the kitchen and front of the building will likely have to be completely rebuilt.
Primus said he and other park area residents were concerned that the City would not restore the building. “What are your plans?” he posed.
“We don't have any plans until we can get more information,” Ramsey said.
Primus said he had heard that the larger of the two older pavilions at the park was to be demolished; but Director Willie Walker spoke up to clarify the point that the larger pavilion might be saved, according to City Parks Director Paul Henley.
“Our understanding was that one was coming down, and that is why we built the new one,” Ramsey said.
Primus said area residents were willing to volunteer to help restore one of the pavilions that had been built to mark a local class reunion, but did not know how the City intended to proceed.
“It's hard to discourage citizen involvement,” Ramsey replied.
Primus offered to find a contractor and have a bid for the work prepared for the citizens group, and the consensus of the board appeared to favor the idea.
“We'll work with you to come up with a solution,” Ramsey said.
In other matters before the board, directors:
Page 2 of 2 - --Approved the purchase of 40 Glock handguns with ammunition magazines for the Hope Police Department at a cost of $5,955.11. The guns were bid by Cruse Uniforms, of Little Rock, and will replace weapons that are almost 15 years old, according to HPD Lieutenant Jimmy Courtney.
--Approved the installation of police package equipment totaling $14,484.70 in a 2013 Dodge Charger patrol unit. Fleet Safety Equipment, Inc., of North Little Rock, will do the work.
--Agreed by consensus to proceed with a wall mural project at the Hope Visitor and Information Center at a total cost of $12,882.29, to be funded from proceeds received from Union-Pacific Railroad after the closure of the North Walnut Street rail crossing.
--Agreed to eliminate a “fire call” telephone line and replace it with 911 emergency service.