Wilson Park plans include new central hub, creek play zone and more

Preliminary concepts / deMx architecture via City of Fayetteville

A longterm stream restoration plan at Wilson Park will include several improvements in the coming years, including a new social hub in the center of the park.

Park planners have envisioned a series of projects that will eventually lead to more interaction with the stream that runs through the park by way of a new promenade, new crossings and the new hub.

Officials said the goal is to provide more access points to the creek similar to the way Niokaska Creek is incorporated into Gulley Park, and to update some older amenities.

Aside from adding new hard and soft-surface trails that connect to or meander along the creekside toward the pavilion, preliminary plans also call for replacement of the two existing creek bridges that were originally constructed in 1986. Both bridges will be removed and rebuilt – one as a wider, more accessible raised bridge and the other as a natural rock creek crossing.

One soft-surface trail could run east-west from the playground towards the tennis courts and along a rebuilt stream drain to a new facility that will replace the existing restroom building in the center of the park.

Existing restroom and drain / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Ted Jack, the city’s park planning superintendent, said when the idea arose to update the aging restroom building, his team instead decided to capitalize on the centralized location of the building and add more amenities for park users.

“The idea is to replace the restrooms, but also to make more of a building that has a lot of different functions like providing a place for people to meet, or to sit and watch tennis or volleyball,” said Jack. “It will create kind of a social hub right there in the center of the park.”

Early design concepts for the building show new restrooms, but also include a covered patio with picnic tables and seating areas that overlook the park in two directions with raised decking that could be incorporated into a new natural stream to replace an existing concrete drain that runs between the tennis courts to Scull Creek.

More preliminary concepts / deMx architecture via City of Fayetteville

Designs are still being discussed, but Jack said that stream could also include pools and access points similar to what’s planned at the main creek just to the south.

There’s no specific timeline for completing the projects, but bridge replacement is coming soon. The City Council in 2019 approved a proposal to apply for an 80/20 matching grant through the Arkansas Recreational Trails Program for an award of up to $216,000 to be used for the construction of the new bridge and a pedestrian connection to the pavilion. That money will help kick off the project, but future grants will likely be needed to continue the work.

Promenade plans / City of Fayetteville

“This is something that will take a long time to do because of the need for funding, future grants and things like that,” said Jack.

More photos

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer