Bentonville Receives Grant To Fund Study For Lake Bella Vista Dam

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- The ongoing debate of what to do with the dam at Lake Bella Vista is one step closer to being over.

Bentonville City Council accepted an almost $100,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to pay for two firms to work together to help create a master plan for the future of the lake. This means there will be no cost to taxpayers.

There are three options. Removing and replacing the dam and leaving the lake, removing the dam and having a free flowing stream instead of a lake, or a free flowing stream with a side channel lake.

“What we want to do is to be able to know what would this cost be to the taxpayer both short-term but what are the long term uses...how will we be using this land a couple of generations from now,” parks and recreation director David Wright said.

Wright said even if they were to continue with dam removal and replacement, they would still be more than a year out because they would have to get a permit from the corps of engineers.

“I feel like the decisiveness of the opinions that are on both of this issue has maybe decreased a little bit and that everybody is working together in unison to maybe come up with the best solution,” he said.

Founder of Friends of Little Sugar Creek Greg Van Horn said he agrees that this is a positive step forward.

“It's a watershed moment for Little Sugar Creek because this is really the first time that the city of Bentonville has considered the alternative of dam removal and stream restoration,” Van Horn said.

The study is set to start soon and they hope it is complete by late summer or early next fall. The results from the study will be presented to the city council.

They estimate removing and replacing the dam will cost around $1.3 million.