The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted 5-1 Tuesday night to approve more funding for an aquatics center at Ben Geren Park.
“It will be an attraction to Fort Smith,” said Director Mike Lorenz. “It’s something that’s gonna be great for the community and that’s one complaint that we hear a lot, you know lack of amenities.”
Sebastian County leaders and the city of Fort Smith already agreed to spend $4 million each on the water park. The additional funding approved Tuesday night will pay for a diving well and lazy river expansion.
The city says the county would have to pay about $820,000 up front for construction of the diving well and lazy river expansion. Tuesday’s vote allows the city to reimburse the county for half of that.
“If the county so chooses to put those forward then the city needs to agree to pay its share of that additional funding, that’s what the supplement to this agreement allows us to do,” said Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman.
Director George Catsavis cast the only no vote Tuesday. “I know it’s entertainment for the kids, but there’s a point where you have to say we have to quit spending money right now til we see what the economy does and our budget’s gonna do,” Catsavis said.
In February the Sebastian County Quorum Court voted not to approve this additional funding for the water park. Sebastian County Judge David Hudson told 5NEWS once the city voted they would evaluate.
Students from Ramsey Junior High School who attended the meeting were happy with board’s decision.
“I’m glad because I’ll be able to go to the water park more and it’ll be more enjoyable for everybody,” said Makayla McCarthy, a 9th grader.
It is now up to quorum court members to decide if they want to fork out more cash.