Western Hills Legacy Park, west of University Avenue in Southwest Little Rock Maxer Technologies, Pulaski Area GIS, State of Arkansas, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency, Google Maps

The National Park Service has awarded $750,000 to the city of Little Rock to improve Western Hills Legacy Park, 5207 Western Hills Ave., along Fourche Creek in Southwest Little Rock. The park, once a golf course, has nearly 130 acres of undeveloped space and two ponds.

The Park Service announcement said the money would be used to create a custom natural playground, picnic pavilions, a paved and soft-surface trail system, fishing piers and ADA-accessible bathrooms. The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership grant, for parks in economically disadvantaged urban areas, was competitive; the Park Service awarded a total of $11.7 million to 18 cities.

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The Western Hills Neighborhood Association has been a strong advocate for the park, which the city purchased with bond money and opened to the public in April.

Hindman Park, which operated as a golf course until mid-year when the city closed it for financial reasons, is south of Western Hills, on the other side of Fourche Creek. The Meadowcliff and Brookwood neighborhoods have advocated for joining the parks with a bridge over the Fourche.

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Fort Smith also won a $750,000 grant, for the first phase of its May Branch Railroad Trail. The city will acquire land and build 1.36-miles of the trail, which will link low- and moderate-income neighborhoods around Martin Luther King Jr. Park with the riverfront and downtown.