Osage Park is an urban park designed as the recreational destination location in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s preserved and enhanced wetland system acts as a 'soft infrastructure' that soaks up and filters stormwater; slowly releasing it, decreasing flooding downstream, and improving water quality.
The Osage Park design team lead by Martin Smith, (EDG Principal & OK State Alumni) studied in depth the watershed, ecology and natural systems of this site prior to implementing the design strategies. The design was orchestrated in harmonious fashion with the pavilion, natural wetland system along with the passive and active programming for the project.
Osage Park lies within the Little Osage Creek Watershed. Two smaller sub-watersheds are within this watershed (Lake Bentonville and Little Osage Creek Headwaters). Both are within the central Bentonville area and join here in Osage Park. The Bentonville area has seen massive changes in development over the past 30 years, and waste runoff has intensified. The preserved and enhanced wetland system here at Osage Park acts as a filter, cleansing the water from the urban area before it flows into the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers, and to the many communities along the way.
Existing wetlands created by beavers were already providing habitat for many species on site, including several of conservation concern. These wetlands also slowed stormwater runoff, improved water quality, helped recharge groundwater aquifers, and reduce flooding downstream. There was a conscious effort to expand and integrate the park with the beaver wetlands and create a connection to Lake Bentonville increasing these benefits. The preservation of the flooded beaver wetlands provides a firsthand look at a delicate wetland system and educates visitors on the importance of the wetlands in an urban watershed.
Green infrastructure strategies were utilized to protect against flooding and improve water quality. The Osage Park wet prairie is designed as ‘soft infrastructure’. It floods, soaks up water, and slowly releases it, decreasing flooding downstream.