Col­lab­o­ra­tion ig­nites skate park project

Con­test part of reopening cel­e­brat­ing new art­work at Memo­rial Park

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - MELISSA GUTE

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.”

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