Dear Siloam Springs,
I’d like you to reimagine your day off. And I’d like to make it so easy for you, that you might just have a hard time un-imagining it. First, I want you to remember what you love about your day off: spending time with your family, indulging in your favorite hobby, getting some exercise, gathering with friends, grabbing some quiet time alone, treating yourself to some entertainment—whatever it is you like to do. Think about that.
Okay, now I’d like you to imagine two new venues—right here in town—where your day off just got kicked up about ten notches. Meet Memorial Park and City Lake. They are your new, day-off besties and I want to make sure you know about them so that when they are ready for you to visit, you’ll be friends right away.
Meet Memorial Park:
Developing right under our noses behind the Public Library, Memorial Park is poised to offer natural beauty, local food, first class entertainment, and even, cleaner water. Let me show you around:
The Farmer’s Market
In front of the Library, parallel to Mount Olive, is the Farmer’s Market Promenade. You can enjoy a stroll down the paved pathway between rows of Farmer’s market vendors. Reinforced lawn on either side preserves the natural beauty while offering a temporary landing place for tents and trucks filled with produce, handicrafts and other wares.
Walk across the spacious green lawn in front of the Library and parallel to Jefferson street (the lawn is thick with zoysia grass, which stays lush and green even under a steady stream of walkers, frisbee-throwers, and other happy foot traffic). You get just past the library and you’ll see the Amphitheater nestled in front of natural terraced seating. And with a fantastic set of lights ready to shine on incoming performers, this stage is ready for action.
The Rain Gardens
Rainwater will be diverted to intentionally placed garden beds with plants that will—get this—actually filter the water before it returns to Sager Creek (which flows into the Illinois River, which supplies our drinking water). This natural filtration will significantly improve water quality. Lovely and functional. Neat, huh?
Memorial Park honors our veterans by highlighting the existing, Siloam Springs Killed in Action Memorial. The Memorial honors men and women who gave their lives in WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Visitors to the park will be visually drawn to the Memorial, providing opportunity for remembrance and teachable moments with kids.
The Water Feature
We’ve circled to the other side of the upper portion of the park on the South side of the Library. You’ll notice an area of slip-resistant concrete and some sleek, white benches. The magic happens when you press a button (yep, you can make it happen!): water will spring from scattered jets under the concrete, creating a chorus of fountains. Great for warm-weather play, or just to sit and watch.
You can enjoy grabbing a snack at the concession building, take advantage of the convenient restroom facilities, admire the historic rock used to direct rainwater (it comes from the curbs of downtown Siloam from the 1900s), read a book on the expansive lawn (hint: there’s a library nearby), and whatever else you can dream up.
Memorial Park will be open to the public soon. Can’t wait to see you there!
Re-imagining my day off,
Re-imagine your Day Off Part II: Meet City Lake
Last post I asked you to re-imagine your day off. I’d like to continue in that theme, but this time I want to introduce you to City Lake. You might think you already know City Lake. But I’m gonna guess you don’t. You know that friend you had in high school who was really dorky? And then at your ten year reunion they’re suddenly a super model making six figures and saving orphans at the same time? That’s City Lake. Not that it hasn't always been great on the inside, underneath it all, but now, City Lake shines.
If you begin at the North side of the lake, you’ll be able to park at the start of about 3.5 miles of exceptional mountain biking trails. OORC (Ozark Off Road Cyclists) is managing the bike trail project at City Lake. Part of what makes them unique is that you can ride them in wet weather (most bike trails need to dry out before they can be safely traversed).
Did you know that Northwest Arkansas is an internationally known destination for mountain biking? The International Mountain Biking Association Summit, a bi-annual convergence of mountain biking enthusiasts from around the world, was held in Northwest Arkansas in 2016. Biking brought $137 million to Northwest Arkansas in 2017 alone (more on that from the Walton Family Foundation here). So it turns out biking is good, even for us non-athletes.
Just getting into biking? There’s also a pump track on the South side of the lake that simulates what you’ll experience on the bike trail, so you can practice before the real thing.
Speaking of non-bikers, the biking trails are great for trail running as well, but maybe you’re not a runner or a biker. No sweat! Come on over to the south side of the lake and hop on to the ADA approved nature trail. It’s made of decomposed granite and is ready to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Keep strolling through the lovely open field and into the woods where Flint Creek gurgles cheerily nearby. A bridge over the water creates an idyllic scene. You’ll probably want to take a seat on one of the built-in benches in the middle of the bridge just to soak it all in. If you sit long enough, you might see a beaver!
The most obvious place to start for nature observation is the beautifully rustic bird blind (built by JBU construction management students) overlooking the lake. The Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society has a helpful document about what kind of birds you might see around city lake. For example, a trumpeter swan has been known to migrate there! Special measures are take to protect the growth of milkweed, a favorite food of future butterflies. During certain seasons, you’ll eventually see parts of the lake blocked off to protect ducks as well. Not to mention the fish, beavers, squirrels and other water and woodland creatures that already know City Lake is the place to be.
As if biking, walking, running, and observing nature weren’t enough, you will also be able to play 9 holes of disc golf. All you need is a frisbee, and playing is totally free. Actually, everything about City Lake is totally free.
So, it’s about time to stop re-imagining and start enjoying your first trip to City Lake. What’s your vision? Taking your kids on a butterfly hunt? Flying down the mountain biking trail? Having a long talk with your special someone on the bridge? Whatever you imagine doing, City Lake provides an ideal outdoor backdrop for activities aplenty.
Looking for my sunscreen,