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Cammack Village’s latest feud: pickle ball

Arkansas News Headlines
Arkansas News Headlines

First-world problems have returned to Cammack Village, or maybe they never left.

The upscale community with its own mayor and police department was the site of a feud over toys in Baker Park — mainly balls and a goal post that an elderly neighbor kept leaving in the park for children.

Cammack Village Mayor Dave Graf viewed the toys as cheap plastic items and said they were litter. The city and Graf’s wife kept removing the toys to the chagrin of the good Samaritan neighbor, Howard Markley, who filed repeated police reports complaining of stolen goods.

Markley said today that he may have worn out the city as no one has been taking the toys he continues to leave in the park for some time now. He said he tries to pick up some of them each night and returns them the next day.

Then there was the police arrest of a pedestrian who dared to move highway cones. Who knew cone-moving merited police attention? The matter escalated until the suspect and the police were in a fight that ended only after numerous police officers showed up at the scene and an officer tased himself by mistake.

Now, it turns out Markley has an activist neighbor who’s circulating petitions to keep a pickle ball court out of Baker Park. Markley said today that neighbor Bob McCullar has already obtained 115 signatures in a town with only about 800 residents. Yard signs urging no pickle ball in Baker Park are even dotting the Cammack Village landscape.

“We are not anti pickle ball. It just should be on the tennis courts,” not in Baker Park, which should remain a place for children to play, McCullar said.

McCullar said the idea would also save money because building a pickle ball court in the park would be a costly project.

As for the mayor, he says the town hasn’t even decided on whether to build a pickle ball court. That decision should come at a City Council meeting on Aug. 9, he said.

Graf said the city took down the basketball goals in Baker Park as did many communities early on during the pandemic for safety reasons. They’ve never been put back up, and Graf isn’t keen on returning basketball to Baker Park. He said young men tend to use foul language in contact sports, and children playing in the park don’t need to hear such language.

As for whether the basketball goals will ever be put back up anywhere, Graf said, “I think I will kick that can down the road” to the next mayor who takes office in January.

For now, the city is pursuing a state grant to improve Baker Park.

But people so upset about pickle ball should calm down, the mayor suggested. “There’s nothing that’s come out that, by God, come hell or high water, we’re going to put a pickle ball court there,” he said.

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