In a May 2016 survey about quality of life in Northwest Arkansas, a Walton Family Foundation report said parks and trails are the most used amenities in the region, with 83% of residents reporting using parks and 69% reporting using trails.
The foundation and members of the Walton family have spearheaded numerous investments into both of those amenities in recent years, most notably the development of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway.
On the horizon, there is also a 70-acre public park in development in Bentonville, at the southeast corner of Highway 102 and Southwest I Street.
The land is owned by an LLC controlled by the Walton Family Foundation, and the majority of the property is being planned for development into a nature preserve project called Osage Prairie Park.
The design plan has been presented to the Bentonville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and was discussed in March. It includes removing the dam to nearby Lake Bentonville, a 20-acre park that’s a half-mile south of Highway 102. That will create a natural wetland, connecting Osage Prairie Park and the lake to the adjacent Bentonville Municipal Airport.
Essentially, Osage Prairie Park will be a privately owned public park, similar to the setup of Compton Gardens and the Crystal Bridges Trail in downtown Bentonville. The new public park will join with Lake Bentonville using a boardwalk.
Where might the Walton family focus its efforts to develop the region’s next outdoor amenity? How about extreme western Benton County.
According to Benton County land records, a Walton-backed entity recently spent $976,356 for about 160 acres near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border. The wooded/pasture land is a half mile south of the 660 million gallon water reservoir in Siloam Springs.
Luis Gonzalez, a Walton Family Foundation spokesman, confirmed the Walton-related acquisition. He said there are ongoing conversations regarding green space preservation and, yes, the terrain’s potential for a trail system.
The land previously belonged to Joe and Jacqueline Woolbright.