ROGERS -- Lake Atalanta Park is another step closer to being entirely opened.
Jennifer Jeronimo plays on the creek edge Thursday with her niece Brielle Guillen, 6, and nephew Mikey Guillen, 2, all of Rogers, at Lake Atalanta in Rogers. Sections of the park are being reopened to the public following flood damage in April.
Koy Duong (from left), 4, of Fayetteville, Quin Williams, 4, of Springdale and Milania Amerine, 3, of Farmington play on the playground equipment Thursday at Lake Atalanta.
Areas of the park north of Walnut Street reopened just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Those areas include the hard surface trail that surrounds the lake perimeter, 10 miles of soft surface multi-use trails, all green spaces and the playground.
"The biggest thing was that we wanted to do whatever we could to make it safe again," said Jim White, director of Parks and Recreation.
Visitors can enter from Walnut Street, the Pleasant Ridge area or the Railyard Bike Park. The Clark Pavilion and its adjoining playground also are open.
Melody Matlock and daughter Jewelea were at the Lake Atalanta trails Friday afternoon to walk Lulu, their 2-month-old mastiff-boxer mix puppy, for the first time.
"It was a bummer" that the park was closed for about a month, Matlock said. "We were driving by every few days to check and see if it was open again."
Melody and Jewelea Matlock, who live nearby, frequent the park at least once a week.
"We love the nature and the streams," Jewelea Matlock said. "We're from Iowa and there's nothing like this" in the area they lived before.
Parks and Recreation crews cleared trails and other areas after heavy rain the end of April made portions of the park dangerous or impassable. Park damage estimates submitted to FEMA were $500,000.
"Parks made it a priority to get Lake Atalanta back open as soon as possible," said Ben Cline, public relations specialist for Rogers. "It's an important part of the city. In the coming months our engineers will work to make it even better than before."
Residents who go to the lake can now access the park through the main entrance, but parking is limited because of construction near the creek, which experienced a landslide during the storms. Playgrounds, lawns and restrooms are accessible again via the pedestrian bridge.
"You can't go from the trail to the playground as you used to" for now, White said. Damage to the vehicular bridge prevents that. He recommended using the walking bridge to get there instead.
The Lake Atalanta boat ramp remains closed because the vehicle bridge is damaged, but visitors can bring kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and any other boats light enough to carry, White said. Those recreational activities can start from the lawn until the boat ramp is ready.
"We're still working to clean up the shore lines that still have some debris," White said.
A recently installed 8-foot-tall chainlink fence surrounds the remaining closed portion of the park to make it clear to visitors which areas are dangerous and should not be accessed. White and green signs clearly dictate which footbridges are clear and which areas are under construction, White said.
NW News on 06/03/2017
Print Headline: Sections of Lake Atalanta Park north of Walnut Street reopen