WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Voters in West Memphis are expected to decide in the coming months if they’re for several large projects, including a water park, the largest sports complex in the state and a new police department building.
Pictures show the goal: a water park with an indoor competition pool and a kiddie pool, along with along with the biggest sports complex in the state of Arkansas, hosting four basketball courts and auditorium with volleyball courts.
Along with the recreation complex, there are plans for a new building to house the police department.
It comes with a $35 million price tag. It would be paid for with a one cent sales tax increase, but West Memphis’ mayor says several years it would mostly go away.
“Actually .75% will sunset, but the other .25 will go on and that will help emergency services like our ambulance services,” said Mayor Marco McClendon.
It’s a project McClendon passionately pitched to city council members at a meeting Thursday afternoon, urging them to send the issue to the people of the city and let the voters decide.
“We are elected, so if they can elect us, why are they not good enough to decide if whether they want this or not?” McClendon said.
Some members agreed, while others did not.
“If you don’t plant a seed you cannot grow, and we need something to draw people into West Memphis, to want to come to West Memphis. If you don’t have anything, you’re not going to get anything,” city council member Helen Harris said.
“This isn’t the time to jump over the bridge and spend this kind of money,” said city council member Charles Wheeless.
McClendon says the concept is bigger than a recreation park. Once the park is built, it means more growth. The facility will host sporting tournaments, bringing thousands to town.
“They are going to eat here, they are going to sleep here, and they are going to shop here,” McClendon said. “Then you have the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Arkansas next door to Southland, who has spent $300 million in their expansion.”
The issue is expected to go on a special ballot in February.