A 10-year plan for Van Buren’s park system should be in place by the end of the year.

Van Buren Parks and Recreation Commission members met Wednesday with Bentonville-based contractors CEI Engineering and Alta Planning and Design in the first of meeting to develop a vision for the future of existing and new parks.

City aldermen in April approved a $50,000 contract to allow CEI to work with the city to provide a professional planning and landscape architecture service for the city’s first comprehensive parks plan.

Erin Rushing with CEI said the comprehensive plans will go beyond short-term goals and be in line with the parks master plan that includes recent park renovations paid for by grant funding and a portion of a citywide one-cent sales tax.

Parks and Recreation Commission member Brandy Mosby would like to see the city’s history used in the park plan by incorporating education values.

A family-oriented environment that would attract families from other areas was touted by committee member Michael Brammer.

Brammer said with the train dropping off families into the city, the idea of a farmer’s market, or a multi-use amphitheater would be a good idea, as well as kid-friendly parks equipment.

Mayor Bob Freeman said the development of the plan goes along with economic assessments underway in partnership with the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce through the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

"It’s not a coincidence we are talking about this, because this all ties in with what we are trying to do here," Freeman said.

Alta Planning and Design Senior Associate Dennis Blind, a CEI subcontractor, agreed a vibrant parks system is not only a quality-of-life issue, but an economic generator as well.

In order to develop the plan, Blind said it must have public input. He suggested public hearings and an online survey.

The next meeting will be in August.