8th Street Gateway Park design contract amended by Bentonville City Council

A new sign is seen on  Tuesday Dec. 29 2020 at the new Bentonville City Hall building at 305 S.W A St. .(NWA Democrat Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
A new sign is seen on Tuesday Dec. 29 2020 at the new Bentonville City Hall building at 305 S.W A St. .(NWA Democrat Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

BENTONVILLE -- The City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million grant for the design of the 8th Street Gateway Park.

The grant comes via the Walton Family Foundation Design Excellence Program, according to council documents.

The funding allows for an amendment to the existing design contract with PORT.

PORT is a public realm design and planning consultancy comprising landscape architects, architects, urban designers and planners, according to its website. PORT has offices in Philadelphia and Chicago. The total agreement with PORT is now $1.99 million, according to council documents.

The amendment allows PORT to move forward through design development and the creation of contract documents, according to a letter David Wright, Parks and Recreation director, wrote to Mayor Stephanie Orman and the City Council.

The contract is fully funded through the Design Excellence Program, he said.

"As you are aware, our team has been working on the design of the 8th Street Gateway Park with the intent to bring this project out of the ground in early 2024," Wright said. "We currently are at the 50% mark of the design development phase and will shortly be beginning construction documents. We hope to bid the project by the end of the year."

In December 2019, Walmart announced the donation of 75 acres for future park development. A previous 23-acre donation from the Walton family helped establish nearly 100 acres of available greenspace west of the intersection of Southwest Eighth and Southwest I streets that will make up the 8th Street Gateway Park.

The amendment accounts for added value and amenities in the projects, Wright said.

"For example, our master plan included bridges, skate parks, pump tracks and amenities that when we started the project, we did not know if we would be able to afford," he wrote. "Now that we have finalized the project budget and are funded to construct the entire master plan, we need to fully design all elements of the project."

This amendment accounts for mechanical, electrical and plumbing facets for restrooms and pavilions and structural engineers for bridges, playgrounds, skate parks and other amenities, Wright wrote.

City voters approved a $266 million bond issue in April 2021 that included $32.75 million for parks, including $5 million for the 8th Street park.

The park's total cost is estimated at $20 million.

"This grant award will take us through final design and into bidding. From there, we will utilize the $5 million of bond funding," Wright wrote. "The remaining funds for the project will come from private funding."

OTHER PARK BUSINESS

The City Council also approved two professional services agreements for parks-related measures.

A $35,000 agreement with Flintco will provide preconstruction services for development of the Adult Recreation Center. The center would be part of an expansion of the Downtown Activity Center, Wright said.

Funding comes from a Bentonville Revitalization Inc. grant, according to council documents.

A $16,500 agreement with Crossland Construction will provide preconstruction services to develop a new parks maintenance facility. The new facility will provide more storage space, improve site use and offer a safe and enhanced employee workspace, according to planning documents.

The city now uses three maintenance buildings at Memorial Park that were put up in the early 1990s, Wright said. They will be torn down and the new building will go on the site, Wright said.

POLICE PAY HIKE

The council also approved amending the 2023 pay plan and a $985,168 budget adjustment for a Police Department pay adjustment.

The city Human Resources and Accounting Department assisted the Police Department with a review of salaries specific to area police departments. Using the data collected by the JER HR Group in February, the change will move Bentonville entry officer pay from $19.67 an hour ($40,913.60 a year) to $24 an hour ($49,920 a year). Additional pay grade modifications were made, along with adjustments to current employees, to avoid compression, Police Chief Ray Shastid wrote in a letter to Orman and the council.

The pay adjustment takes effect July 3.

The pay adjustment and amendment will allow the department to remain competitive in a challenging profession and "ensures we are recruiting and retaining the most professional and qualified police officers" for the city, Shastid said.

APPEAL HEARD

The council also heard an appeal of Planning Commission approval of a rezoning request from low-density, single-family residential to downtown medium-density residential at 411 N.W. C St.

The applicant, Lucatoni LLC, appealed to request approval of its original rezoning request from low-density single-family residential to downtown high-density residential.

The council approved the appeal 5-3. Gayatri Agnew, Bill Burckart, Octavio Sanchez, Beckie Seba and Chris Sooter voted yes. Cindy Acree, Holly Hook and Aubrey Patterson voted no.


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