CONWAY, Ark. — The City of Conway hopes a new park can be a space where people can learn about historical black figures, while also helping control flooding issues downtown.

“Downtown flooding has been an issue for quite some time,” City of Conway Spokesperson Bobby Kelly said.

The project under consideration is Markham Square.

“This project is needed and it’s important because if you’ve been in Conway, if you've done business in Conway, you’re fully aware that whenever it rains real hard, the downtown area floods. What this park will do, is it’ll give us the ability to retain storm water run-off,” Kelly said.

It’s currently an unkempt area in a historical black neighborhood.

The city hopes to preserve history, while also minimizing flooding issues.

“It’s going to be a historic park where you can walk through and see pictures and read stories of persons that were instrumental in Conway, particularly in the black community,” community leader Leona Walton said.

City council members have discussed naming the park in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

This is something Leona Walton is on-board with.

“We couldn’t go in the front door and sit down at a counter and eat. Because of what Martin Luther King did for this nation, I’m able to go in the front door and sit down and get what I want,” Walton said.

She said there was talk of renaming Markham Street or Pine Street in Dr. King’s honor.

“We expressed to the City our concerns about renaming, where we group, our heritage, but we supported naming something Martin Luther King,” Walton said.

Others have expressed interest in renaming the park after a historical black figure from Conway.

“Our plan is to sit in the park things about our community leaders, that our next generation can come and read about. But, Martin Luther King began all of this,” Walton said.

Plans for the name haven’t been set in stone, and the City welcomes feedback from residents.

“There’s still plenty of time to attend public meetings, talk to your elected officials, talk to the mayor, talk to your alderman, you name it,” Kelly said.

They are able to do this project thanks to a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that was passed through the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission.

The next meeting where you can provide input will be February 27.

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