One of Little Rock’s most popular recreation sites is about to return after a long hiatus.
A proposed Interstate 630 widening forced the closure of Kanis Park basketball courts in 2018. On Monday, city officials broke ground on new improvements to the park, including three and a half new courts.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said he hopes to bring the popular attraction back to the park after its original courts closed about four years ago.
“We worked with the city council to identify $1.6 million to make sure we bring those basketball courts back…to understand what that meant to the community, not just from a historical perspective, but also to make sure our kids have something to do,” Scott said. . “They understand teamwork, they understand discipline, they understand leadership, and that’s what we have the opportunity to bring back to our city by bringing back those basketball courts.”
The project’s lead designer, Chris East, of Little Rock-based Cromwell Architects Engineers, said the new courts are one of many improvements coming to the park in the near future.
“This includes lighting, seating, security fencing and sidewalk connections to adjacent neighborhoods. The project will improve the trail network throughout the park. It will also connect to a larger city-wide network of trails which, when completed, will connect all major parts of the city to create a true city within a park,” East said.
East says the project will also replace the low water bridge at the entrance to the park, which can be prone to flooding.
“The new bridge will separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic from the creek and create safer access to the park. It will also slow stormwater, reduce surface runoff, and capture all major pollutants that can limit any ecological damage and restore the natural character of the park,” East said.
East says the trails in Kanis Park will eventually connect to a city-wide network of trails connecting neighborhoods and other parks. Construction of the basketball courts is expected to be complete by the end of the year, with all other upgrades to be completed by spring 2023.