NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Families across central Arkansas are devastated after park officials found sinkholes all over North Little Rock's all-inclusive playground, One Heart Park.
Hundreds of people planned to attend the park's grand opening in June, but park officials are postponing the opening until the sinkholes are fixed.
Terry Hartwick, Director of Parks and Recreation for North Little Rock, said he got the call from contractors that potholes were covering the brand new park. He said he isn’t blaming anyone. Instead, his focus is on the problem and how to fix it.
"We were trying to do something good and as Emma would tell you, it’s not an easy day any day,” said Hartwick. “But this has been a tough two days.”
Hartwick was speaking about Emma Wasson. She was born with a congenital heart defect and Turner syndrome. She was also the inspiration for the park.
Emma’s parents, Kenny and Jerilyn, say that Emma has taught them a lot about challenges and how things don’t always go as expected. They said she has also taught them about resilience. That’s why, even though they are upset about the sinkholes, they can see the silver lining. They think these sinkholes actually help bring awareness about kids with congenital heart defects.
“Some of these kids with CHD have holes in the heart,” said Emma's mother. “One sinkhole is right smack in the middle of Emma’s heart that she drew on the playground.”
Kenny Wasson said that this might be a bump in the road, but it is not the end of the road.
“I just see how many people are affected by this and how many people this is going to benefit and it has just strengthened my resolve,” he said.
Other people in the community are just hopeful the park will open soon.
Emily Smith is an Assistant Physical Therapist for Kidsource Therapy in North Little Rock. She was planning a big trip to the park with her clients after the grand opening. She said the park will be more than a fun playground, it can be a way to help kids learn.
“This playground is great when it comes to giving kids the opportunity to be a regular kid, play, learn, grow and function,” she said.
Hartwick said a specialist will come on Monday to assess the damage. They hope that will help determine the best way to move forward.
You can help provide any funds for the park by attending a July 15 concert celebration. Supporters hope to raise money with live music, food and more.
For more info on the concert go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/649884411883880/
For more details on One Heart Park go here: http://nlrpr.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=6471813
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