Lowe's lends hand to improve Conway park

by Donna Lampkin Stephens

One of Conway’s historic parks is in the midst of a facelift, thanks in part to some community-minded Lowe’s employees.

According to conwayparks.com, Curtis Walker Park, a 15-acre plot located at 1700 Museum Road in east Conway, includes one lighted baseball field, two basketball courts, a playground, five picnic tables, two park benches, a grill and a lighted youth football field with a concession and restroom area. It hosts American Legion, youth and Conway St. Joseph baseball and Optimist youth football.

“The park has a historic value to the city, and we’re just tickled that Lowe’s and some other vendors have stepped up and coordinated through Lowe’s to assist us with making park improvements,” said Steve Ibbotson, Conway parks director.

Brenda Brown, administrative manager at Lowe’s in Conway and coordinator of the local Lowe’s Heroes volunteer program, said Kyle Williams, a youth baseball coach, first approached her about the renovation project.

“He didn’t know where to start, so I told him to let me see what we could do, so we started calling people, telling them the history of the park, and everything fell into our hands,” Brown said. “Everybody was amazed at how people pitched in. The city came in and put in new lights, and our Lowe’s Heroes program team had won $5,000 last year, and we gave that to go toward the scoreboard. They’ve never had a scoreboard.”

Among the improvements already completed are new lighting and backstop and rebuilt dugouts, which have been expanded and relocated further down the baselines.

“For the future we plan to re-do the parking, and we’re presently under contract to construct a new concession stand and restrooms,” Ibbotson said.

Brown said the Lowe’s Heroes program looks for worthwhile local projects for Lowe’s employees to get involved in. The local team used its $1,200 Lowe’s Heroes budget on the dugouts, and local companies Southern Star Concrete and Mallard Ready Mix donated the concrete.

“We tore down all the chain link fence, completely stripped it, and took the old dugouts out,” she said of the Lowe’s employees. “We had a crew put new chain link up, and I contacted (Southern Star and Mallard) and they both volunteered their time and poured the concrete for the two dugouts. We built the dugouts ourselves, and another crew came in and laid the block, and we built bleachers.”

Teams and fans have been enjoying the renovations thus far into baseball season, but Brown said her group wasn’t finished yet.

“The field is done and they’re playing on it,” she said. “We’re getting ready to go back and plant crape myrtles all around now.”

According to lowes.com, Lowe’s Heroes began more than 10 years ago. The program encourages local employees to “team together, adopt a volunteer project with a local nonprofit organization or K-12 public school and make a difference.”

The website states that in 2010, Lowe’s Heroes worked on more than 1,300 local projects, and the company contributed more than $1.3 million in materials. Larger Lowe’s Heroes projects are funded by the Lowe’s Foundation.

“We want to be out there for the community showing we are part of the community,” Brown said. “We’ve done a lot for the women’s shelter and the Faulkner County Day School. Some things we’ve done on our own without being part of the official Lowe’s Heroes.”

Ibbotson called Lowe’s a good neighbor.

“Not only with that project, but they help us out with other stuff, too,” he said. “If they have something that they can help us with, they call and ask us. They’re just always willing to help out in every opportunity they can — not only with products, but their employees are out there, too. That’s really cool.”