Park extension builds around growing community

Siloam Springs keeps pace the development in Northwest Arkansas with the renovation of the memorial park next to the library.

Plans for the park started in 2016 when the city won a $300,000 grant for the park’s design from the Walton Family Foundation. Siloam Springs’s Board of Directors approved the plans and $3,440,000 budget on Nov. 17, 2017. Construction of the park began in early 2018 and the estimated completion date is spring of 2019.

Don Clark, the city’s community development director, put together a committee for planning the park. The members of this committee all came from different parts of the Siloam Springs administration.  “I put together a committee that was composed of the ex-executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs, the current director, three staff members and two board members,” Clark said.

This committee searched for architects who would work closely with members of the Siloam Springs community while still producing professional-grade work. The committee took bids from multiple firms and decided to work with CARBO out of Baton Rouge, a firm recognized nationally for its work in landscape architecture.

“The landscape architect designed [the park] with a local, structural architect. I believe we had three public meetings in the process to get the public’s input, and a lot of that is reflected in the design. Our goal was to get to the schematics. To get to the schematics, we needed public input,” Clark said.

“Our goal was to make [the park] a very vibrant place, even when it’s passive, so if there’s nothing going on, it’s still very inviting.” Clark said.

Siloam Springs is keeping up with the development of Northwest Arkansas at large. As Walmart requires all its suppliers to have representatives living in NWA, and the overall GDP of the area has increased, the metropolitan areas along the interstate have been growing exponentially. Siloam Springs is not typically included in these areas referred to as the “Corridor”, but has nonetheless kept growing as young professionals and JBU alumni decide to call Siloam Springs their home.

One such alumnus, Travis Chaney, has been living in Siloam Springs for 15 years and saw a small part of that transformation. “It’s been really encouraging,” Chaney said of Siloam’s growth, “it feels nice to live in a place that’s growing at a pace that is culturally absorbable.”

“We’re insulated, in a way, from the rapid growth along the Corridor.” Chaney said, “So, somebody who’s been here sixty years, it’s not like every day you’re turning around saying, ‘Where do I live? Everything’s brand new!’ It feels to me like growth is at a sustainable pace.”

The park will run down the library’s hill, transitioning down Maxwell Street to Twin Springs Park. The park will also feature an amphitheater, welcoming bands and other acts, and, once the park is completed, the Siloam Springs Farmer’s Market will be held there instead of Bob Henry Park, according to Clark. The park will also have a splash pad and will feature local fauna.

“We’re excited. We’re a growing city. We’re a very forward-thinking city, but we’re very in-tune to what is our DNA,” Clark said. “We’re not trying to do what Fayetteville, Bentonville, Dallas or anybody else is doing. We’re going to do what works for Siloam and be the best Siloam we can be. We hope that people see that and recognize that.”