The city of Conway unveiled the Markham Square Project conceptual plans Thursday night over a YouTube livestream.

Markham Square, the site of significant improvements over the past few years, has been reimagined as a park by SWA, an international landscape, planning, urban design and architecture firm. The firm presented its plans for the site on Thursday after a February meeting in Conway where the public was able to suggest features of the Markham Square Park, as well as sketch their own landscaping ideas.

Carl Smith, an SWA representative, said the February meeting was helpful and gave the firm a sense of the direction it should take in designing the new Markham Square.

“On several occasions, the participants spoke on the importance of multi-functional design,” Smith said. “That really helped align what we wanted to do with the park with what was required by the community.”

SWA’s plans for Markham Square include bike lanes, new sidewalks and additional trees. Also, SWA planned a quarter-mile walking path through the park which would include an entrance plaza, large open grass areas, garden areas, an amphitheater and a children’s play area which includes a water play area.

Most important in SWA’s plans are the site’s ability to retain and treat water that passes through its stream. Through multiple processes, including a rain garden of native plant species and a specifically designed stream bed to slow the flow of water, Markham Square will be able to clean the water that comes through it and help handle some of the storm water which can flood Downtown Conway. The large grass areas on the site are designed to easily flood to retain excess water.

The Markham Square Project is being funded through grants, Conway Planning Director James Walden said, with construction to potentially begin sometime in 2021 or 2022.

After Thursday’s presentation, the city entered a 30-day comment period for the public to share its feedback.

For more information on the project and to share feedback, visit www.conwayarkansas.org.

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