Lake Bella Vista could be seeing some major changes.
Bentonville’s City Council approved a study to look into different ways to improve the area.
“Lake Bella Vista is and will continue to be the gateway in Bentonville and into Northwest Arkansas,” said David Wright , Bentonville Parks and Recreation Director.
Bentonville is looking into different options for the future of the lake, including rebuilding the dam or getting rid of it completely.
The dam was declared a disaster area twice, in 2008 and 2010.
“This is a really big positive step for both sides of this. There’s been a lot of debate and emotion that’s covered the topic of the lake versus the stream over the last decade,” explained Wright.
Two water restoration companies will research ways to update the lake over the next 9 months.
The study will be paid for by the Walton Family Foundation.
“If the dam does go away, or let’s say the dam’s rebuilt, we need to determine what the future use of that park is going to be,” said Wright.
“It provides an opportunity for people to see what the stream could be without the dam,” said Greg Van Horn, Friends of Little Sugar Creek founder.
Van Horn said parts of the creek are crystal clear, but near the dam, the water is murky and filled with debris.
“Once dams are removed rivers come back to vibrant life again,” said Van Horn.
Van Horn has been working for many years to remove the dam, and believes this new study is a great first step.
“Taking out a nonessential dam is probably one of the best ways you can improve a health eco system,” said Van Horn.
Once the study is complete, Bentonville will present its findings to the public to hear their thoughts before making a decision.
“We’re very hopeful one day we’ll see Little Sugar Creek flowing freely through this valley again,” said Van Horn.
“As this has progressed, the opportunity for everybody to sit down at the table, and work on a solution together, will result in something that we’re all very proud of for generations to come,” said Wright.