PEA RIDGE — Pea Ridge lacks adequate, all-inclusive athletic facilities to serve youths and adults of all capabilities, according to Roy Harris, area resident.

Harris has been working with Santa Rosa County Commissioner Sam Parker on the issue; Parker says potential expansion of Benny Russell Park may address some of Harris’ concerns.

Harris has been working on bringing what he calls an inclusive recreation and community park for the Avalon and Pea Ridge area for over a year. He submitted a development proposal April 11, 2017 during the county commission infrastructure meeting.

"In Pea Ridge and Avalon there is a glaring void for a broad scope of recreation opportunities within parks and public facilities for all age groups," the proposal says. "The four other districts enjoy such parks and facilities. It is time that Avalon and Pea Ridge have their own recreation park."

During the April 11 meeting, District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole said he would support any initiatives, possibly including recreation funds, to meet this goal.

"Who would have thought 14 years ago we’d see that big apartment complex there and all the growth we have seen in Pea Ridge?" Cole said during the meeting. "It’s gotten ahead of us and we’ve gotten behind it."

Parker responded to Harris with two possibilities: expanding Benny Russell Park and acquiring land in Pea Ridge through donation or purchase.

The commission has since moved forward with Parker’s proposal to expand the 30 acres around Benny Russell Park. The county contracted with Genesis Engineering to develop a master site plan for the park at a cost of $58,500.

The contract with Genesis includes three community involvement meetings. They will provide the community an opportunity to present their ideas for park amenities; show the public the conceptual master site plan; and, if necessary, present the final plan.

However, Parker said the distance may still be too great to serve Pea Ridge residents.

"It’s not as near as convenient to the Pea Ridge area," he said Jan. 9, "especially south Pea Ridge…The big thing is identifying a location. Maybe folks would give us some land."