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story.lead_photo.caption A large tree stands Thursday in Luther George Grove Street Park in downtown Springdale. The city received a $642,638 grant from the Walton Family Foundation meant to begin implementation of the city's Downtown Master Plan and help fund improvements at nearby Luther George Grove Street Park. - Photo by Andy Shupe

Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series on plans made by the 2017 recipients of grants from the Walton Family Foundation's Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program.

SPRINGDALE -- Luther George Park has a facelift in its future.

Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program

The Design Excellence Program provides financial support to entities such as school districts; county, state or local governments; and nonprofit organizations that intend to develop spaces for public purposes. Money is earmarked for all phases of design work.

The Walton Family Foundation awarded $3.6 million to projects in the area’s four largest cities.

Source: Walton Family Foundation

The park sits in the heart of Springdale and at the center of the area defined in the city's downtown master plan.

A $642,638 grant from the Walton Family Foundation designated to jump-start implementation of the plan will help pay for the park's expansion and renovation.

Kelly Hale Syer, executive director of the Downtown Springdale Alliance, said it's early in the process and there is no timeline for when work on the park will begin or how much it will cost. What she does know is the city wants to create a gathering place downtown that includes both green space and physical structures.

"This park and nearby downtown green space is a key piece for downtown revitalization; we see this project as a true catalyst for the area, both in the near future and long-term. It's an investment in something that has the potential to impact generations to come," Syer said.

Some of the early ideas include a great lawn that would accommodate outdoor festivals and concerts, age-appropriate play areas, a dog park and enhancement of the natural environment around Spring Creek.

The alliance will be asking for public input.

Ecological Design Group, a landscape architect and civil engineering firm with an office in Rogers, developed an initial concept for connecting several spaces downtown. Luther George Park will be the first step, Syer said.

The grant will pay for travel and expenses for potential design firms to be interviewed and make presentations, she said. The money also will be used to design the improvements and pay for an "owner's representative" to act as a project manager and advocate on behalf of the Downtown Springdale Alliance and city throughout the design process.

Syer said the alliance will seek additional money as well.

Plans for Springdale are outlined in the city's downtown master plan, which was adopted in December 2015. The area outlined in the plan is bordered by Huntsville Avenue to the north, Old Missouri Road on the east, Caudle Avenue on the south and Thompson Street on the west.

Syer anticipates there will be an evolution toward a more urban style of housing with lofts and well-planned multifamily housing that capitalizes on the abundance of green space and promotes more walking and biking to downtown amenities.

"Based upon the growth trajectory downtown Springdale is already starting to experience, I envision a very beautiful and dynamic place in 10 to 15 years," she said. "I believe we will see much more retail shopping and great restaurants, more public art, increased use of our already busy trails, a permanent farmers market facility, more festivals and musical performances."

Chuck Flink, the owner/president of Greenways Inc., sees a re-emergence of downtown Springdale with new businesses moving in the area and the planned projects for the area. Springdale is following the path of other cities -- Bentonville, Fayetteville and Rogers -- in Northwest Arkansas concerning committing to revitalizing their downtowns.

Flink's firm was lead designer of the Razorback Greenway and the Springdale Downtown Revitalization Master Plan. He said Springdale had probably the most prominent downtown area in Northwest Arkansas 60 to 70 years ago.

"It was a default farmers market, and it was one of the important hubs of life in Northwest Arkansas," he said.

"It's great being part of a community that is growing," said Grant Holcomb, store manager for Phat Tire in downtown Springdale.

Kenny Arredondo, a barista at Trailside Coffee Co., said there's a positive energy downtown. He said he believes more businesses will locate in the area in 2018. Arredondo said it's interesting to see the different types of people visiting the downtown area.

Photo by Andy Shupe
Workers construct islands along Emma Avenue on Thursday in downtown Springdale. The city received a $642,638 grant from the Walton Family Foundation meant to begin implementation of the city's Downtown Master Plan and help fund improvements at nearby Luther George Grove Street Park.

NW News on 01/01/2018

Print Headline: Park key in Springdale master plan

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