City to break ground on expansion at Yvonne Richardson Community Center

YRCC initial expansion concept (Miller Boskus Lack Architects)

FAYETTEVILLE — The city will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming expansion of the Yvonne Richardson Community Center at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 28.

Speakers for the event will include Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Josh Lainfiesta, director of the center. The center is located at 240 E. Rock St.

The project includes adding a teaching kitchen and multi-purpose classrooms to the center. The work will also feature improvements to Ralph “Buddy” Hayes Park, including stream restoration and the addition of seating and gathering areas. The park is located across the street from the center.

The city in 2022 began collecting public input for the project after a decision was made to expand the nearly 28-year-old center.

The facility was built in 1996 through funding by former University of Arkansas men’s basketball coach Nolan Richardson in honor of his daughter, Yvonne. The 10,000-square-foot center is operated by the city’s parks department, and provides programming for under-served families.

Services include an after-school program, open gym time for preschool children, physical education classes for children enrolled in home-school, spring and summer camps, and kid-friendly gardening and nutrition classes. Adults can also play pickleball, basketball and other activities when the gym is available.

Parks staff said improvements and enhancements are needed in order to continue to further reach and serve the community and carry out the mission of the center.

A memorial plaque for Ralph “Buddy” Hayes stand on undeveloped park land across from the Yvonne Richardson Community Center. (City of Fayetteville)

Hayes Park is an undeveloped neighborhood area across from the center along Sprout Spring Branch. Ralph “Buddy” Hayes was a beloved figure in Fayetteville in the 20th century, according to a news release. As a musician, he played a unique style of jump blues for white and Black audiences from the 1930s through the 1960s. A shoeshine man at the U of A Barber Shop by day, and a jazz musician by night, Hayes was lovingly known as the “Mayor of Dickson Street,” the release stated.

The work is funded in part through a bond program that voters approved in 2019. A matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation will also help contribute to the $2.6 million project for both the center and the park.