New outdoor space The Ramble, connects the cultural anchors of downtown Fayetteville | Lifestyles

Fayetteville officials recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of The Ramble, a 50-acre outdoor public space designed to revitalize downtown Fayetteville for residents and tourists.

The first phase, which includes the Lower Ramble, was to convert Fay Jones Woods into a natural attraction, transforming the parking lot west of Walton Arts Center into an outdoor civic space and make improvements to West Avenue and Razorback Greenway.

The Ramble was previously known as the Fayetteville Cultural Arts Corridor Project. Its goal is to create connectivity between all of the city’s cultural anchors – from the Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared and the Fayetteville Public Library to the new campus of the UA School of Art, said Joanna Bell, director arts and culture in the city.

City officials have been working on the Cultural Arts Corridor since 2017. It was funded through a bond project in 2019 that was voted on by the citizens of Fayetteville, Bell said.

The area had already been smothered by invasive species, and the city’s Environmental Action Committee began eradicating those invasive species years ago, preparing the space for reclamation, Bell said.

“We’ve revitalized Tanglewood Creek,” Bell said. “We also created the Tanglewood lawn from what used to be the Gregg Avenue pitch. We were able to cross Fay Jones Woods and create a healthier forest canopy and multiple paths through that space.

One of The Ramble’s goals is to improve connectivity throughout the city. The project provides an east-west route to get from Gregg Avenue or the UofA to West Avenue and the library, Bell said.

The project will improve civic space, help increase downtown development and density, provide bike lanes and connections, and improve streets and walking city ​​website.

“It had awesome effects on how we could connect all parts of downtown,” Bell said. “The second phase of The Ramble will improve this connectivity to Dickson Street.”

The project also provides a blank canvas for arts activation throughout the city, acting as an artistic home that sits between the city’s cultural institutions, Bell said.

“We have all of these incredible cultural arts institutions that function as anchors in this hallway,” Bell said. “The Ramble is in a way an opportunity for these artists to play, work and activate this space for the enjoyment of the citizens of Fayetteville.”

During the opening ceremony, more than a dozen musicians from the UA music department were stationed throughout The Ramble in different sets to perform.

Throughout the fall, there will be similar additional programming to activate the space. City officials will bring in artists to create installations, the community will interact with the artists, and there will be opportunities for artistic engagement throughout the Lower Ramble, Bell said.

The project will bring many community members to the area. It serves as a space to explore nature right in the middle of the city, said Willow Fitzgibbon, director of library services.

“Spaces are developed where you can have small community gatherings, and there will also be opportunities for spontaneous events to happen there,” Fitzgibbon said.

City officials are working on many different initiatives: partnering with several of the region’s cultural anchor institutions, engaging with individual artists to create opportunities to share their work with the community, and organizing several recurring programs , Bell said.

“We’re looking at doing Fall Fridays at The Ramble, where we’ll have happy hour concerts so people can feel empowered to enjoy The Ramble at its finest time of the year,” Bell said.

The library was also encouraged to consider The Ramble as additional event space for its programs, Fitzgibbon said. Its staff plans an after-school workshop, nature walks and other activities in the space.

“I love nature, there are so many studies on the health effects of being in nature,” Fitzgibbon said. “The fact that we’re in town and it’s easily accessible, and I think they’ve done a great job with the architecture.”