Walton Family Foundation provides $3.5 million grant for Bentonville Quilt of Parks spaces

Impact fee request voted down

Dave Peel Park Friday, May 29, 2021, located on  E. Central Avenue in downtown Bentonville. The Bentonville Downtown Quilt of Parks will receive $5 million from the bond issue to do upgrades to Dave Peel Park and to build The Commons on an empty parking lot. Check out nwaonline.com/210530Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)
Dave Peel Park Friday, May 29, 2021, located on E. Central Avenue in downtown Bentonville. The Bentonville Downtown Quilt of Parks will receive $5 million from the bond issue to do upgrades to Dave Peel Park and to build The Commons on an empty parking lot. Check out nwaonline.com/210530Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Gottschalk)


BENTONVILLE -- A $3.5 million grant for spaces associated with the downtown Quilt of Parks was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday night.

The Walton Family Foundation provided the grant that will be used for the renovation of Dave Peel Park and to build what has been called Bentonville Commons or The Commons.

As work starts next year, the entire area will be known as Dave Peel Park and the name Bentonville Commons will go away, said David Wright, Parks and Recreation director.

"With construction beginning recently on the A Street Promenade, we have turned our design efforts to the public park spaces associated with the Quilt of Parks," Wright said in a letter that was part of the council agenda packet. "These two parks have been titled Dave Peel Park and The Commons in the past. However, as the project has moved forward we believe the best thing moving forward will be to call the entire area Dave Peel Park."

The parking lot where The Commons would have gone and Dave Peel Park are separated by about 20 feet, Wright said.

The A Street Promenade, a pedestrian walkway, will connect Lawrence Plaza three blocks to the south where The Commons was supposed to go.

That area will include a small stage for things like live acoustic music, ample greenspace, a plaza, covered shelters, restrooms and an outdoor play area for table tennis and cornhole, Wright said. A larger stage will be closer to East Central Avenue, he said.

The cost for the renovated Dave Peel Park and the space where The Commons would have gone is estimated at $10 million, Wright said.

City voters in April 2021 passed a $266 million bond for capital projects and refinancing. Voters extended a 1-cent sales tax originally approved in 2003 to repay the bonds. The bond will pay for $32.75 million in park improvements.

The bond provides $5 million to renovate Dave Peel Park and build the other space as part of the Quilt of Parks.

Visit Bentonville also provided $1 million for the Quilt of Parks, Wright said.

"This brings our current total for these two projects to $9.5 million," Wright said. "We will start with trying to make up this difference in the competitive bidding phase. If we are not successful in bidding, we will look for other funding to complete the projects."

Wright estimates the project will be bid in the first quarter of next year with construction starting after that. A formal announcement of the new Dave Peel Park will come next year, too, he said.

The City Council in September approved a $15.58 million bid award to Flintco to construct the A Street Promenade. Flintco also is construction manager for the Dave Peel Park project.

The Walton Family Foundation offered the city a $16 million grant for the promenade project, Wright said in a letter that was part of September's City Council agenda packet.

The foundation also provided a $1.2 million grant for design of the promenade, Wright said.

The Quilt of Parks Project is an effort to improve existing parks and plazas downtown by adding new green spaces, plazas and gardens and stitching them all together in a cohesive, pedestrian-friendly way, according to the city.

Impact fee request

The City Council also discussed a resolution to pay impact fees on behalf of Housing Partners III Limited Partnership for the McAuley Place development at Southwest 41st and Southwest I streets.

The impact fees were approximately $179,000. The vote was 5-3 against paying the impact fees.

Chapter 46, Impact Fees, of the Bentonville Municipal Code allows for the City Council to pay impact fees on behalf of fee payers to promote economic development and the provision of affordable housing in the city, according to council documents.

The Planning Commission approved the large-scale development at its Sept. 19 meeting. The applicant requested the City Council pay the impact fees for the multifamily units, which will be maintained as affordable as required by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, according to council documents.

The development would consist of a multifamily apartment complex composed of 26 separate structures on 11 acres that would consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom options, according to council documents.

The money would have been moved from the general fund to the four impact-fees accounts.