(Editor's Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Diversity and Inclusion; Education/Workforce Development; Infrastructure and Water; Public Works/Environmental and Green Management; Technology and Security; and Tourism Development/Creative Culture. Below is one winner's story. For more, click here.)
Public Works/Environmental and Green Management
Winner • 20,000 or Greater
Mayor: Bart Castleberry
MLK Square uses plant species native to the region and locally available for purchase, making the project adaptable for use in other communities.
Conway’s MLK square neighborhood was once a thriving commercial and cultural hub, but in recent years the area had struggled with a lack of investment and dwindling population. It was formerly a junkyard that had become filled with scrap metal and toxic materials. The city wanted to transform the space into a city park, which required an extensive cleanup process that involved removing pollutants like oil and chemicals from the soil.
The MLK Square area within the Markham Street Neighborhood is a historically African American community and was once a thriving commercial and cultural hub. MLK Square commemorates and celebrates the community’s contributions with granite pavers throughout the park.
MLK Square Park highlights historic contributions by the African American community. It has helped alleviate flooding and better manage runoff entering stormwater drains. Its use of green infrastructure makes it a noteworthy destination for people to learn about the remediation process that went into the design. The project provides a gathering space for historically marginalized members of the Markham Street community, celebrates Conway’s history and showcases the positive impact of public green spaces.