Jonesboro Grows with Healthy Population (Quality of Life | Honorable Mention, 20,000+)

Jonesboro continues to be one of Arkansas’ fast-growing cities. Arkansas State University, St. Bernards Medical Center and other job providers help attract people, but the amenities scattered across the city are what keeps the population of 67,000 (as of this writing) in one place.

The abundance of recreation gives Jonesboro a nod in the 2013 City of Distinction Quality of Life category for cities with populations over 20,000.

The high quality of life can be enjoyed in any of the city’s 21 parks which offer a wide range of playground equipment, outdoor sports, pavilions, walking tracks and open green space. These parks cover 1,500 acres of land and are used 12 months of the year. Craighead Forest Park is the city’s largest, consisting of 690 acres devoted to biking, hiking, running, camping, fishing, dog jumping, ATV riding and other recreational activities.

A new pool center offers swimming lanes for exercise along with a low diving board and ADA-compliant lift for anyone with special needs. The center books time for swimming lessons, pool parties, church outings and corporate swims, and it’s even the home of the Jonesboro Jets, a local swim team that has won several state events and hosts tournaments there.

The city also offers the opportunity to play baseball or softball. Twelve-hundred youths participate in the city’s recreational baseball leagues with 14 tournaments held each year at the Joe Mac Campbell Facility, which holds 12 fields with two more under construction. In 2015, the city will host the Ten and Under Cal Ripken World Series Finals, attracting teams from beyond even the state’s borders.

The city of Jonesboro has raised $1.5 million through donations, grants, naming rights and in-kind services for a Miracle League Project, giving children with special needs a chance to play baseball. The blueprints include a 26,000-SF rubberized surface sports field, an activity playground designed with special needs children in mind and restroom facility with a quiet room for autistic children. The project is slated to be the largest Miracle League park in the nation and will serve Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi families.

Jonesboro’s growth has come from people all over the region desiring a place to work and learn, but its recreational amenities are also giving those people plenty of room to play.