Group Opposes Future Plans For Lake Bella Vista Dam

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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- A group of local residents is calling for the removal of the badly damaged dam at Lake Bella Vista.

The Bentonville City Council voted to move forward with plans to replace the hundred-year-old dam in December, weeks before it sustained significant damage from flooding.

"We are advocating for the removal of the failed dam and the restoration of Little Sugar Creek," said Greg Van Horn, a member of Friends of Little Sugar Creek. "Let Little Sugar Creek flow, basically."

The 50,000 acre watershed leading up to the lake can't be supported by the small body of water, said Van Horn. He called the dam itself outdated.

"These are our natural resources," said Van Horn. "Building these senseless dams to make these small reservoirs, which don't generate electricity, don't provide drinking water, they make no sense in the 21st century."

Ben Peters, Bentonville's City Engineer, said a conveyance agreement established when the city received the land, lake and dam for Lake Bella Vista requires Bentonville to maintain the facilities as they are.

Bella Vista resident, Ken Bollinger, said he supported the plan to replace the dam.

"If you didn't have the dam stopping the water and it was just a river, every time it flooded, you'd have debris all over the place," said Bollinger. "I think it just wouldn't look as nice."

75%  of the $3.7 million dollar dam replacement will be paid for by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peters said. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management will cover 12.5% of the cost, with the remainder covered by the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.

Repairs could get underway as early as late summer.

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