Downtown Organizations Rally for Revelry on the River

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Argenta Downtown Council, and Pulaski County gathered at Rockwater Marina Thursday to invite everyone in Central Arkansas, and the state to hit the water this fourth of July. 

The recently released Downtown Little Rock Master Plan calls for the city to embrace the Arkansas River and take full advantage of this incredible natural resource.  

“When the planners first arrived, they were shocked to find our businesses downtown have turned their backs on the river, and riverside parking lots are taking up prime waterfront real estate,” said DLRP Executive Director Gabe Holmstrom. “We’re here today to make sure people know about this wonderful gift from mother nature, and to invite them to join us on the water for the Fourth!” 

Thanks to dams located upstream and downstream, the section of the Arkansas River flowing between Little Rock and North Little Rock offers calm waters with regularity. This controlled stretch of the river provides a perfect setting for recreational activities, including boating, kayaking and waterside events.  

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde reflected on the remarkable transformation of the Arkansas River over the last four decades. 

“Back then, the river was perceived as an obstacle to cross or a dumping ground for refuse,” Hyde said. “Its untapped potential remained hidden, waiting for visionaries to recognize the benefits it held. Fast forward to today, and our downtown districts have become world-class destinations, thanks to those who saw beyond the river’s limitations.” 

Now, joggers, cyclists, and families take advantage of the nearly 150 miles of trails and bike routes along its banks. On warm summer nights, live music, and laughter echo off the buildings, carried by the river’s gentle flow. 

“Let us never take this natural gift for granted,” Hyde said. “The horizon holds even greater economic development possibilities but achieving them requires thoughtful planning. I am excited about the future and confident that by working together, we can continue to expand recreational and economic opportunities while preserving the river’s natural beauty.”   

Rockwater Village is a prime example of how riverside development can enhance the quality of life for our residents and increase population, said Argenta Downtown Council Executive Director Chris Kent.   

“Since 2008 property tax collections in the Rockwater area have increased from $50,000 to over $1,000,000 per year,” Kent said. “There are over 1000 new residents that support our local business and keep the Argenta Arts District Thriving.” 

Kent called on the county and both cities to work together to continue improving the downtown areas on both sides of the river.   

“The river isn’t a divider, it’s a connector,” Kent said. “Look at the Little Rock master plan and its emphasis on the Arkansas River and think about 20 years from now. Will we look back and think how fortunate we are to have these amenities or will we look back at another missed opportunity. It is now up to us.”   

While major investment will be required to transform the shoreline, anyone can enjoy the river today by boat, be it one with a motor or a paddle.  

“If you have a boat, bring it to the river for the Fourth of July,” Holmstrom said. “If you have a kayak, paddle on out here. In addition, Rock City Outfitters - who are here today - have several rental options for anyone looking to try out paddling or those interested in a sunset cruise.” 

Little Rock has two public access points, one in Murray Park and another at Rock City Yacht Club, as well as Burns Park in North Little Rock.  

Downtown Little Rock Partnership is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to accelerate the success of Downtown Little Rock, through leadership, partnership and initiative, sustaining and growing our vibrant urban core. 

Argenta Downtown Council: The Argenta Downtown Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit that facilitates the planning, management, and development of the Argenta Art District as a creative, diverse, and economically healthy center with historic architecture and a modern vibration. The ADC works to build up the community through an array of activities, entertainment and arts. Through these efforts, they promote new businesses, tourism, and excellent quality of place.  

About Pulaski County: Pulaski County Government is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our residents. We strive to provide efficient services, promote economic development, ensure public safety, and maintain a strong sense of community. Our commitment is to serve with integrity, transparency, and accountability. “Your County, Your Services.”  Learn more on Pulaski County Government at