Aug 30, 2021 - News
Bentonville considers flipping park projects
Original master plan.
A rendering of the original master plan in downtown Bentonville. Courtesy of Bentonville Parks & Recreation

Bentonville's parks and recreation department wants you to vote between the location of two green spaces that will be part of its larger Quilt of Parks plan.

What's happening: An original master plan puts a children's playground in the space currently occupied by the two-acre Dave Peel Park, and adds a green space and music pavilion to an adjacent parking lot.

  • An alternative plan flips the location of the two green spaces.
  • Anyone interested in the project is invited to take a short survey by Sept. 24.

Driving the news: The second plan, which would place the playground in the current parking lot, is further from Central Avenue, where motor traffic continues to increase. That distance makes it safer for kids.

  • This design will also provide parents more line-of-sight from nearby businesses. The current location will eventually be flanked by two, six-story buildings, including a parking garage.
Alternative plan.
Alternative plan that flips the location of the playground and music pavilion. Courtesy of Bentonville Parks & Recreation

Context: The estimated $6 million project will provide more area for residents to enjoy downtown Bentonville while keeping dedicated child-friendly space that was developed in the 1970s.

  • Like similar projects underway or recently completed in Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers, Quilt of Parks expands on the city's landlocked downtown square, creating an attraction for residents and businesses.

By the numbers: A $226 million bond plan that carved out $5 million for the project passed in April.

  • The other $1 million needed for the project is expected to come from Visit Bentonville, the city's travel and tourism arm.

The intrigue: Dave Peel Park honors the man who was mayor of Bentonville from 1932 to 1943. In the 1970s, residents raised money to purchase the land and create the park, Parks & Recreation director David Wright told Axios.

  • Given its history, the parks department wants to ensure longtime residents have an opportunity to provide their input, Wright said.
An artist's rendering of the park under the alternative plan.
An artist's rendering of the park under the alternative plan. Courtesy Bentonville Parks & Recreation.

What they're saying: Chris Sooter, city council member, said respecting the park's heritage is important and will be prioritized regardless of where it's located.

  • Council member Tim Robinson told Axios it's great the parks department opened the issue for public input due to the nostalgia associated with Dave Peel Park.
  • Yes, but: As a parent, he feels the alternative plan has some strong safety benefits.

What to watch: Wright said he may be able to present the survey findings to the city council as early as the Sept. 28 meeting. The council would likely vote on the plan soon after.

  • "There are two designs that add to the quality of life in Bentonville," Wright said. "This is a win-win; we just want to pick the choice that would help us win more than we would the other way."
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