Can Recreation Make Your City Stronger? — Sturdy Cities

Bentonville, as soon as a sleepy, southern city of 32,000, has spent the final ten years dedicating itself to constructing parks and recreation for its residents. What started as a “High quality of Life” initiative for the city has remodeled it right into a vacationer megacenter. Alongside the way in which, Bentonville’s inhabitants has elevated by no less than 20% because the final census, officers estimate.

The city started constructing multi-use trails in 2007 after taxpayers accepted a $15 million bond referendum devoted parks and recreation. (In accordance with the town’s price range, debt providers quantity to only 8.6% of expenditures within the metropolis’s price range.) It has since constructed over 60 miles of trails inside the metropolis, a 36 mile multi-use path to hook up with the bigger school city of Fayetteville, and over 100 miles of singletrack (pure floor trails) accessible from downtown alone.

It’s the connection of pure floor trails to the close by downtown district by way of the paved paths that makes Bentonville distinctive, David Wright says, Director of Recreation within the metropolis. Many different areas recognized for mountain biking can require 30 to 40 minute drives from the metropolis to succeed in a trailhead.

The place Personal Meets Public

Bentonville could also be a smaller metropolis, however it’s house to one of many largest companies on the earth, Walmart. When the town started constructing trails, the Waltons noticed a possibility and “jumped in,” in line with Wright.

The Walton Household Basis noticed recreation as a method to entice workers to the area the place the Walmart headquarters is positioned. In accordance with Luis Gonzales, Senior Communications Officer on the Walton Basis, the marketing campaign began as part of their “Sense of Place” technique, the place they checked out what folks valued about residing in Northwest Arkansas — nature, inexperienced area, and the city material. “Constructing trails was a method to protect inexperienced areas but additionally give folks entry,” he mentioned.

Slaughter Pen — the primary and nonetheless hottest singletrack path system in Bentonville, was funded virtually solely by the inspiration 11 years in the past. Since then, it has awarded quite a lot of grants each to the town and native non-profits like NWA Trailblazers. Sometimes grants supplied to the town are at a 1:1 ratio, the place the inspiration matches each public greenback spent.

Walton Basis partnered with PeopleForBikes in 2018 to conduct a research of the financial driver of biking tourism within the area. The research discovered over 90,000 mountain bike vacationers had visited Northwest Arkansas in 2017, leading to $27 million spent at native companies.

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