Advocates Trying to Preserve and Expand Gulley Park

FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- Residential construction could soon be moving in on one piece of Fayetteville history.

Max Mahler, park advocate said "This park is pretty near and dear to my heart. I learned to ride a bicycle in this park as a little kid."

Max Mahler and Ben Putman grew up in Fayetteville.

Mahler said, "Concerts, you get soccer practices, weddings, I mean you see just about everything out here."

They recently resurrected a tradition at Gulley Park, one that started in the 1980's.

Mahler said, "One of the best things that goes on here is the 'Cow Paddy Run'."

Putman said, "The original purpose was to help raise money for the park."

Now their mission is somewhat similar. 12 Acres of land next to the park are up for sale, so for these guys it's a race against the clock.

Mahler said, "If you're standing along the trail, I think that would really make the park feel a lot smaller."

They're left worrying what land developers might put behind the barbed wire.

Putman said, "That land is directly adjacent to the current boundaries of the park. We worry about the quality of the park atmosphere, having potential construction going on for years."

So Mahler and Putman put together a crowd-funding campaign, called "Friends of Gulley Park" in the hopes of buying the land before developers move in.

Mahler said, "Roughly we are looking to raise about a million dollars total."

They are hoping to preserve the space, the memories, and the future of Gulley Park.

Putman said, "We feel it's very appropriate for us being long time Fayetteville residents to help expand the park as it's done in the past.".

Mahler said, "It's a great place and I've enjoyed it my whole life."

If buyers do move in before they can purchase the land, the money they do receive for Gulley Park will go to the Fayetteville National Heritage Foundation to help other parks in the city.

Wade Colwell with the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation department said they are waiting for an appraisal of the land, and depending on cost, they might be able to tap into the parks and recreation budget.

Colwell said, "We can take money from the budget for parks. There is over seven hundred thousand dollars budget to be spent on Gulley Park next year. The parks board met and decided to take that money and we are willing to put that money toward the purchase of this land."

Mahler said so far they have raised more than $5,000, but they are going to need more support.

Mahler said, "This is not that is going to happen because of two or three people, it is really going to take an entire community, and friends and family to get around it to make something happen."

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