Collaboration ignites skate park project
Contest part of reopening celebrating new artwork at Memorial Park
BENTONVILLE — Kyle Marlatt sat on his skateboard while watching fellow skaters competed in an ollie contest, seeing how many stacked boards they could jump over on their own board.
Spectators oohed and cheered as skaters continued to clear the increasingly tall wall of boards.
The contest was part of a reopening event celebrating the new artwork that covers the skate park in Memorial Park.
“It looks really nice,” Marlatt said. “I think everyone will like it more.”
The park didn’t look bad previously, but it was dull, just gray concrete, he said.
The park is now covered with blues, greens and browns, inspired by Arkansas’ topography. The design was a collaboration between the Mars Agency and Bentonville Public School’s Ignite Program, which gives high school students real-life experience working on projects with area businesses and organizations.
The Mars Agency was looking for a creative project that would give back to the community, and Sarah Bartmier’s Ignite digital design and photography students were looking for a project to design and implement. The two connected with the help of Mike Abb with Runway NWA.
“The Mars Agency was great helping my kids understand how to begin designing
something this large,” Bartmier said, explaining that Mars employees worked with the students from the concept phase to the design phase to the project implementation. “It was really cool to see them involved in the whole process.”
Mars brought students to the office to brainstorm and sent creative directors to their classroom throughout the process, said Beck Grigg, creative director at Mars.
“Working with students is a big part of what the Mars Agency does,” she said. “And help them understand what the real world might be like in the creative field.”
The project was paid for by a $10,000 Walton Family Foundation grant that was given through BikeNWA. Mars matched the grant, representatives from the organizations said.
BikeNWA was the project manager for the project, said Kelsey Miller, community engagement coordinator.
BikeNWA promotes and advocates for all types of cycling. BMX bikers often use the skate park. There were several who participated in the reopening event.
“We wanted to make sure that the infrastructure that we already had was being well utilized,” Miller said of the project, explaining that the skate park wasn’t bad but that the reinvestment project could excite the community about the amenity.
The skate park opened in 2001 and was funded by a Benton County Leadership Class of 2000 that raised $140,000 for the park, according to David Wright, parks and recreation director.
The Parks Advisory Board and Public Arts Committee helped with the reinvestment project that was driven by philanthropic organizations, a company and local students.
“This is just another example of how our parks belong to the people of our community,” Wright said of the collaborative project. “It was driven by the people who live here.”