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New Conway park not just fun, but also help city flooding issues

"It's gonna be a different way to fix storm water drainage, it's not a one-sized fix all solution, but this is definitely going to help."

CONWAY, Ark. — A new park with a purpose is coming to Conway! A great place to go when the weather is nice and a place solving a problem when it rains. 

Right now, it's just a piece of dirt, but in about a year Markham Square will not only give families a place to come to and have fun but also will help with a problem many in Conway are far too familiar with.. flooding. 

The issue of flooding even greater for downtown business owners like Laine Berry.

"It's just part of downtown Conway, we just know it's something that's happened here for eons and eons," she said.

Born and raised in "The City Of Colleges", Berry has countless flooding stories.

"My mother actually worked downtown, probably 20 years ago, and her car flooded in front of Jennifer's Antiques," she said.

As a business owner in the heart of downtown, Berry said it was never a question of if the water was going to come into her bridal store, but how bad would it be.

"Every time you hear thunder you think I've got to get downtown, I've got to get the sandbags out, I've got to get the door blocked," she said.

Water took over Berry's store so many times, she decided to move locations.

"At some juncture you have to make the decision, 'do I keep the great location or do I keep my inventory mold free?'" she said.

Just blocks away from her shop, the City of Conway broke ground on a project Thursday that could help business owners like Berry, according to City Spokesperson Bobby Kelly.

"It's gonna be a different way to fix stormwater drainage, it's not a one-sized fix all solution, but this is definitely going to help," he said.

Thanks to a grant and a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, Kelly said the city can officially start on the project that's been years in the making.

"This used to be the site of what local residents called the old scrap yard. It was an eyesore, to be honest," he said.

Now, the city is turning that eyesore into something to enjoy. 

According to Kelly, the park will have everything from walking trails to a performance lawn while also helping with storm water management. 

"The vegetation and the park itself is going to help retain that water, clean that water so that we aren't just pumping it into our stormwater sewers," he said.

With a shovel of dirt, what this wide open space will become, means business owners, like Berry, feel like their voices were heard. 

"For all of us downtown, having that solution created in Markham Street is going to really let us all sleep peacefully at night for the first time in decades," she said.

Right now the plan is to have the park ready by the end of 2022. 

The city is exploring changing its name to Martin Luther King Jr. Square.