The Vision for 8th Street Gateway Park

8th Street Gateway Park is a new center for community recreation and urban nature for Bentonville, and a beginner mountain bike destination for Northwest Arkansas. This new park will contribute to Bentonville’s exceptional quality of life through enhancement of four interrelated aspects of the park:

PLAY— Create a signature, multifaceted recreation amenity that serves residents throughout the city.

CONNECTIVITY— Link West Bentonville’s growing population with existing and future regional trail corridors.

ECOLOGY— Enhance ecoregional character and performance at the top of the Elk River Watershed.

COMMUNITY— Position 8th Street Gateway Park as the civic and cultural centerpiece of Bentonville’s western growth.

A new park for everyone

Whether visitors are coming to explore the park’s unique and distinctive ecologies; experience the park’s extensive network of beginner mountain bike trails and features; attend a special community event; engage in structured or nature play activities; take an evening stroll or ride; or just meet up with friends for an afternoon out of doors, 8th Street Gateway Park offers activities and experiences for everyone, of every age, of every ability and of every interest.

Located at a unique ecological condition

Located atop the Elk River Watershed, within the historic range of the Osage Prairie, 8th Street Gateway Park affords visitors the opportunity to learn about and experience the larger hydrologic and ecologic story of Northwest Arkansas. The design of the park will enhance remnant prairie and woodland ecosystems present on site, while restoring the degraded waterways that course through it, in order to manage stormwater runoff from adjacent impervious surfaces. This will improve water quality downstream and in turn the overall health of the Elk River.

A beginner mountain bike destination

Lacing through the park will be nearly 12.5-miles of greenways, multi-use paths and bike trails. This extensive network includes 6-miles of beginner mountain bike trails making 8th Street Gateway Park a world-class destination for learning how to ride. From a strider bike course for those just mastering how to balance on two wheels, to smooth and gently rolling greenways for touring and circuit rides, to bypass skills areas and technical offshoots, the park offers an accessible entry into mountain biking for users of any age or ability.

Opportunities for discovery and play

Beyond an extensive system of bike circulation and charismatic natural landscapes, 8th Street Gateway Park offers myriad opportunities for both formal and informal active recreation. Features include a 1-acre signature playground at the park’s core, as well as a small neighborhood-scaled scramble in the western area of the park. Adjacent to these neighborhood play features are a collection of small “blacktop,” court, and outdoor table games. Elsewhere, large-scale custom furniture elements in programmed areas of the park offer opportunities to climb, collect and creatively play.

Opportunities for relaxation and exertion

Crushed stone jogging paths line the park’s main circulation routes and are supplemented by 3-miles of accessible, pedestrian-only trails. The western park features a 3-acre Great Lawn ideal for activities like tossing a ball, practicing cartwheels, playing quidditch, or just hanging out with friends around a picnic. The field is wrapped by a quarter-mile soft-surface track that separates the lawn from the native prairie that surrounds it. Elsewhere, there are water play opportunities in the restored creek beds and occasions for informal nature play to be discovered throughout the grounds.

Spaces for public collection

In order to preserve the natural landscape character of the park grounds, areas of new program and public collection are concentrated in previously developed or disturbed portions of the site. These discrete “Park Landings”—one in each of the west, east and core zones of the park— provide structured venues for arrival, amenity and event. Each landing has a distinct scale, orientation and character related to the programs and activities that comprise it, offering spaces for the community to gather and socialize.

Spaces for events and exhibition

At the center of the new park is a landing known as “The Central Yard.” This space includes large custom urban furniture for lounging and people watching, as well as a handsome comfort station and shaded pavilion that can host small events, exhibitions and performances. The pavilion opens out to a larger 13,000-square foot plaza space that is designed to be flexible enough to host informal everyday activities, as well as special events, large gatherings, and food trucks or a makers’/growers’ market.

Community facilities for nearby neighborhoods

The west park landing is known as “The Porch”. It is oriented principally towards the park’s residential neighbors to the west and south, providing a venue where the community gathers, socializes and recreates.  The Porch includes a strider course, as well as areas for picnicking and neighborhood-oriented structured play. A smaller 5,000-sf plaza at the center of this area is anchored by a small pavilion comprised of restrooms and a concession area within a larger canopy structure that frames views out to the Great Lawn.

A passive natural landscape in the heart of the city

The concentrated areas of park program are set within large areas of charismatic passive landscape including upland and floodplain woodlands, flat prairies, wet meadows, and surface runoff-fed streams. These existing landscapes are representative of the park’s unique location between two of Northwest Arkansas’s most notable ecoregions—the Elk River Hills and the Springfield Plateau, and will be modestly enhanced as part of the park’s construction. Sprawling over 109 acres, 8th Street Gateway Park will be a big, new, landscape destination for the City of Bentonville and the region.

Extensive connections to the region’s bikeways

As part of the park’s construction, the over-scaled 8th street vehicular corridor will be transformed into a generous park drive, complete with a gateway bridge overpass, planted boulevard, separated bike lanes, mid-block grade crossings, parallel parking and an enhanced pedestrian- and bike-friendly intersection at Melissa Drive. These elements will slow down traffic by prioritizing bikes and pedestrians in order to create a safe, welcoming park arrival experience. With multiple connections to Bentonville’s greenway network, 8th Street Gateway Park will become a true recreation destination within the region.

The Vision for 8th Street Gateway Park

8th Street Gateway Park is a new center for community recreation and urban nature for Bentonville, and a beginner mountain bike destination for Northwest Arkansas. This new park will contribute to Bentonville’s exceptional quality of life through enhancement of four interrelated aspects of the park:

PLAY— Create a signature, multifaceted recreation amenity that serves residents throughout the city.

CONNECTIVITY— Link West Bentonville’s growing population with existing and future regional trail corridors.

ECOLOGY— Enhance ecoregional character and performance at the top of the Elk River Watershed.

COMMUNITY— Position 8th Street Gateway Park as the civic and cultural centerpiece of Bentonville’s western growth.

A new park for everyone

Whether visitors are coming to explore the park’s unique and distinctive ecologies; experience the park’s extensive network of beginner mountain bike trails and features; attend a special community event; engage in structured or nature play activities; take an evening stroll or ride; or just meet up with friends for an afternoon out of doors, 8th Street Gateway Park offers activities and experiences for everyone, of every age, of every ability and of every interest.

Located at a unique ecological condition

Located atop the Elk River Watershed, within the historic range of the Osage Prairie, 8th Street Gateway Park affords visitors the opportunity to learn about and experience the larger hydrologic and ecologic story of Northwest Arkansas. The design of the park will enhance remnant prairie and woodland ecosystems present on site, while restoring the degraded waterways that course through it, in order to manage stormwater runoff from adjacent impervious surfaces. This will improve water quality downstream and in turn the overall health of the Elk River.

A beginner mountain bike destination

Lacing through the park will be nearly 12.5-miles of greenways, multi-use paths and bike trails. This extensive network includes 6-miles of beginner mountain bike trails making 8th Street Gateway Park a world-class destination for learning how to ride. From a strider bike course for those just mastering how to balance on two wheels, to smooth and gently rolling greenways for touring and circuit rides, to bypass skills areas and technical offshoots, the park offers an accessible entry into mountain biking for users of any age or ability.

Opportunities for discovery and play

Beyond an extensive system of bike circulation and charismatic natural landscapes, 8th Street Gateway Park offers myriad opportunities for both formal and informal active recreation. Features include a 1-acre signature playground at the park’s core, as well as a small neighborhood-scaled scramble in the western area of the park. Adjacent to these neighborhood play features are a collection of small “blacktop,” court, and outdoor table games. Elsewhere, large-scale custom furniture elements in programmed areas of the park offer opportunities to climb, collect and creatively play.

Opportunities for relaxation and exertion

Crushed stone jogging paths line the park’s main circulation routes and are supplemented by 3-miles of accessible, pedestrian-only trails. The western park features a 3-acre Great Lawn ideal for activities like tossing a ball, practicing cartwheels, playing quidditch, or just hanging out with friends around a picnic. The field is wrapped by a quarter-mile soft-surface track that separates the lawn from the native prairie that surrounds it. Elsewhere, there are water play opportunities in the restored creek beds and occasions for informal nature play to be discovered throughout the grounds.

Spaces for public collection

In order to preserve the natural landscape character of the park grounds, areas of new program and public collection are concentrated in previously developed or disturbed portions of the site. These discrete “Park Landings”—one in each of the west, east and core zones of the park— provide structured venues for arrival, amenity and event. Each landing has a distinct scale, orientation and character related to the programs and activities that comprise it, offering spaces for the community to gather and socialize.

Spaces for event and exhibition

At the center of the new park is a landing known as “The Central Yard.” This space includes large custom urban furniture for lounging and people watching, as well as a handsome comfort station and shaded pavilion that can host small events, exhibitions and performances. The pavilion opens out to a larger 13,000-square foot plaza space that is designed to be flexible enough to host informal everyday activities, as well as special events, large gatherings, and food trucks or a makers’/growers’ market.

Community facilities for nearby neighborhoods

The west park landing is known as “The Porch”. It is oriented principally towards the park’s residential neighbors to the west and south, providing a venue where the community gathers, socializes and recreates.  The Porch includes a strider course, as well as areas for picnicking and neighborhood-oriented structured play. A smaller 5,000-sf plaza at the center of this area is anchored by a small pavilion comprised of restrooms and a concession area within a larger canopy structure that frames views out to the Great Lawn.

A passive natural landscape in the heart of the city

The concentrated areas of park program are set within large areas of charismatic passive landscape including upland and floodplain woodlands, flat prairies, wet meadows, and surface runoff-fed streams. These existing landscapes are representative of the park’s unique location between two of Northwest Arkansas’s most notable ecoregions—the Elk River Hills and the Springfield Plateau, and will be modestly enhanced as part of the park’s construction. Sprawling over 109 acres, 8th Street Gateway Park will be a big, new, landscape destination for the City of Bentonville and the region.

Extensive connections to the region’s bikeways

As part of the park’s construction, the over-scaled 8th street vehicular corridor will be transformed into a generous park drive, complete with a gateway bridge overpass, planted boulevard, separated bike lanes, mid-block grade crossings, parallel parking and an enhanced pedestrian- and bike-friendly intersection at Melissa Drive. These elements will slow down traffic by prioritizing bikes and pedestrians in order to create a safe, welcoming park arrival experience. With multiple connections to Bentonville’s greenway network, 8th Street Gateway Park will become a true recreation destination within the region.

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