BENTONVILLE -- The Bentonville Moves Coalition has announced its inaugural community mini-grant program and its first-ever round of grant recipients.
The program was created to build excitement, momentum and grassroots support for safer and healthier city streets, according to a news release.
"Bentonville Moves continues to partner and support Bentonville building out its network, including supporting groups and projects that continue to make Bentonville safe and accessible," said Jessica Pearson, manager for the Bentonville Moves Coalition.
The coalition awarded $39,100 to 18 Bentonville community organizations for projects such as murals, bike safety videos, greenspace beautification at neighborhood entrances, school bike programs and biking events, according to the release.
The coalition is an alliance of community organizations, local businesses, schools, institutions, civic leaders and residents working to make the city safer and more connected. The coalition is focused on making Bentonville the safest city for cyclists and pedestrians "in the Heartland by 2027," according to the release.
The mini-grants will help develop events or projects that strengthen and reinforce the importance of the Connecting Bentonville Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, the release states.
The largest mini-grant -- $5,000 -- went to the Sturbridge neighborhood for greenspace beautification at the neighborhood entrances and fence-line improvements, according to the release.
Fixing damage to the Northwest Third Street fence line and beautifying the neighborhood entrances were top priorities but were not within the Sturbridge Property Owners Association budget, said Blake McGilton, the association president.
"We had the opportunity to connect with Jessica at Bentonville Moves," McGilton said. "She was super interested in our projects and finding ways to help. Especially with our neighborhood being right along the recently completed Third Street Bike Parkway."
The grant allowed the association to refresh the entrances and fix the fence line, making for a more beautiful ride along Third Street, McGilton said.
"We work off of a small annual budget for the neighborhood and have tried to avoid raising dues for members," McGilton said. "We've been so thankful to Bentonville Moves for their support in continuing to make Bentonville a better place for everyone."
The Bentonville Fire Department received $2,500 for architectural renderings for a possible Safety Town.
It would be a place for public education on various safety topics in the model of the Frisco, Texas, Fire Safety Town, said Brad Arnold, division chief/fire marshal Building and Fire Safety Division.
The city Safety Town is in the conceptual stages, Arnold said.
The Frisco facility has welcomed more than 432,000 visitors since it opened in January 2007, according to its webpage.
There are several Safety Town concepts across the country that focus on public safety education geared toward children in a setting that resembles a miniature town square with streets, intersections, crosswalks and bike lanes, Bentonville Fire Chief Justin Scantlin said.
"We have thought for a while that this would be a great concept for Bentonville," Scantlin said. "This idea is in the very beginning stages. We applied for this grant to help fund basic conceptual drawings to get an idea of what it could look like."
The city doesn't have funding for construction and hasn't acquired land to build it on, Scantlin said.
"We would need to apply for additional grants in the future, and possibly look for private partners to help fund this idea," Scantlin said. "If this dream can become a reality, it would provide a great resource for public safety education in an environment that provides real world learning experience."
Another funded project was Cranksgiving, a mobile food scavenger hunt and food drive event. That mini-grant was $1,000.
Cranksgiving took place Nov. 18 with seven teams collecting more than 400 pounds of food, all of which was donated to families in need, officials said.
The event, held in cities nationwide, began as an "alleycat" -- an urban race held by bike messengers, according to the Cranksgiving website.
"Designed to emulate the busy and often grueling schedule of a messenger workday, riders were given checkpoints and tasks to complete for the bragging rights of being that city's fastest rider," the website says. "In 1999, New York City messenger Antonio 'Tone' Rodrigues thought up a different kind of alleycat, one that would help the less fortunate during Thanksgiving holiday -- this alleycat would be primarily for charity."
The first Cranksgiving took place Nov. 20, 1999, according to the website.
Bentonville artist Jes Weiner completed Marley Blonsky's Bike to School garage door mural near Baker Elementary School and the Brookhollow Third Street mural on a privacy fence heading toward Coler Mountain Bike Preserve with mini-grants of $2,500 and $3,000.
It took a combined 10 days to finish the two murals, Weiner said.
"I've always loved murals because they are such an accessible form of art, and anyone walking or biking by can see them and enjoy them," Weiner said. "These mural projects mean a lot to me as an artist and bike enthusiast. I'm thrilled about the plans that BMC has for more protected bike lanes in this area. It's an honor to be a part of that."
The application cycle for the second round of mini-grants will open in January for projects that should be completed by June. Grants will be awarded based on a projects alignment with the Connecting Bentonville Plan, impact and community benefit, feasibility and sustainability, collaboration and partnerships, and innovation and creativity.
Source: Bentonville Moves Coalition