Arkansas residents speak out after city removes skate park

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TRUMANN, Ark. — A group of Mid-South residents gathered to protest at Trumann City Hall this afternoon in response to the city dismantling a popular skate park.

Skaters gathered after school at the Trumann mayor’s office. after city workers dismantled and removed a skate park that stood just a block away.

"Every day after school, this is where my son is at," Trumann resident Nicole Whitaker said. "There’s so many kids here that have such a huge passion and huge heart. They put everything into this.”

The skate park tear-down comes less than one day after some parents and teachers spent their Sunday cleaning up the park.

They feel the removal came out of nowhere.

"None of the citizens, the kids or anyone had no warning whatsoever," Whitaker said. "As of yesterday, we thought the cleanup was going to help, and then we get up today, and they’re taking it down.”

But the mayor’s office claimed the park was beyond repair and filled with litter and graffiti. They also said the dismantling was planned last fall, although no resident WREG spoke with acknowledged any prior warning.

"That was on schedule, and the group that played in the park yesterday, I had no idea that they were volunteering, and I appreciate volunteerism," Mayor Barbara Lewallen said.

While there’s clearly a disagreement about how and why the skate park was taken down, everyone does agree that moving forward, the children of Trumann need some sort of outlet or additional resource in the park.

But it’s unclear when or if that might happen. The City of Trumann has already said a new skate park doesn’t fit into its budget.

"We paint, we repair, and if we can add a few things, we add. It’s just part of the work," Mayor Lewallen said. "We’re doing everything that we can to keep our parks looking good and use-able to the public.”

The City of Trumann said the skate park materials have been put into storage for now, but residents are hoping to put them to good use.

"To me, they need to put it back," Whitaker said. "They need to rebuild the skate park."

A GoFundMe has been started to help raise money to hopefully rebuild the park.

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