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Burns Park Soccer Complex in North Little Rock gets ready for a college tournament while recovering from tornado



North Little Rock, Arkansas – Eight months after being devastated by the “catastrophic” March tornado in central Arkansas, a mainstay in the North Little Rock neighborhood is still trying to rebuild.

Burns Park is reopening gradually, and locals are making the most of it.

The soccer field area is open, the trail around the soccer field,” said Elaine Gimblet. “First time that we have taken it. That was a big deal and we were really excited.”

Jack Evans stated that although the park’s closure was a major setback, they may now enjoy it once more.

“We can come over either play golf, run, bike, or whatever,” said Evans.

The fields were undamaged, but the roads need significant maintenance, according to North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick.

“Our plan was to try and get this open at least by Dec. 1 and they pretty much made it,” said Hartwick. “Very proud to see what we have here. We have 17 soccer fields and everybody is ready to play again.”

The reopening is just in time for the college soccer competition at the end of December.

“You have kids trying to get a scholarship to play college soccer so this is where they have the tournaments,” said Hartwick. “College coaches from all over the state come to see applicants or scholarship players.”

The mayor stated that the renovated Funland and the BMX race track, which should be finished by mid-December, are the final projects on the agenda.

“Golf, tennis, pickleball, soccer. I could keep going on and on. It is good to say that Burns Park is open,” said Hartwick. “We are going to get with the parks commission, talk with Vicki Stephens, and show them what we would like to do with Funland. Funland will never be back like it was but we can make it better and more useful for people, and bring it up to date. Hopefully by spring of next year we will have a new Funland.”

Hartwick estimates that the city’s overall damage from the tornado was around $40 million, of which $5 million was used to fix the roads and trails surrounding the soccer facility.


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