BRYANT, Ark. — A once thriving Bryant baseball park has certainly seen better days before being neglected. But not too fast, with new leadership, comes new opportunities.
The city of Bryant plans to bring the excitement of baseball back to Ashley Park. Over the past several years, the community's watched its first built park fall on hard times.
"Most people who grew up here played ball here,” said Christ Treat, parks and recreation director. “Until Bishop Park was built, this is where we did all of our baseball program.”
It was about eight years ago when booming Bishop Park came to town, bringing more tournaments than ever before.
But that’s when, Ashley Park, a place that holds many memories for people living in and around Bryant, went under.
If you look around, there’s no bleachers, no life, and poor lighting fixture to accommodate it.
"I think it's sad looking at it now because over the past 10 years it's been able to degrade,” said Allen Scott, mayor.
Treat took his vision for the park to Mayor Scott.
After teaming up the city now plans to bring life back to the park where new generations can make their own memories. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. With a growing city-wide baseball program, the need for more field space is there.
"We want to make this an Elite practice facility,” said Treat.
The city plans to start by replacing all the fencing and lighting, then upgrading the fields to tournament level quality.
“They need to drain better,” said Treat. “Like right now because of the rain, the way they are now, it would take three days to be able to play again. Once we upgrade them, they’d be playable this afternoon.”
Treat said they eventually will add an indoor practice facility on park grounds, and knocking down the old green concession stand and replacing it with a playground.
"It'll be a great place for people to come practice baseball not just teams but individuals too,” said Scott.
The project is a multi-phase effort, which is expected to take around three years to complete.