The David F. Watkins Memorial Park Committee invites interested Hot Springs residents to participate in a Kickstarter fund raising campaign to help fund labor and materials for a memorial marker at the main entrance to the future park.
The public-private city park will be constructed at the former site of a dilapidated, vacant motel at 811 Park Avenue. Following a long history of police responses to criminal activity, the motel was condemned, razed and removed by the City of Hot Springs. After then-city manager David Watkins met with members of the Park Avenue area to hear their concerns, he promoted a vision to transform the area into a neighborhood park. The park, he said, would fill the need for a park in the north area of the city and further the grassroots community revitalization already taking place. After Watkins’ unexpected passing last summer, the area residents decided to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the City of Hot Springs and create the park in his name. Pro bono architectural design by Taylor Kempkes Architects and engineering assistance by B&F Engineering have been provided. Area groups and community organizations are raising additional funds to complete the park’s construction.
Planned park amenities include a splash pad for kids of all ages; a bridge over Hot Springs Creek, which runs through the park; a butterfly garden with native plantings; terraced gardens near the creek; a fully-accessible playground; an amphitheater and more. The park is also designed as a stormwater mitigation tool whereby the amphitheater will fill up and carry off excess water when the creek floods in rainy weather. Bioswales to purify runoff water are incorporated into the design.
The committee’s Kickstarter challenge is to raise a total of $4000 by August 26 to fund the memorial marker. The kickstarter.com page, which can be found by searching “David F. Watkins Memorial Park Marker,” offers varying donation levels including one whereby the donor’s name will be engraved on a brick walkway in the park. A short video on the page provides additional background and details on the project. For information call 501-655-1255.
NOTE: The direct link to the park’s Kickstarter page is https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1090543602/david-f-watkins-memorial-park-marker# .