Aquatics Park Plan Stalled After Vote Delayed

An aquatics park approved by Sebastian County voters won’t be done by next year. In fact, no one knows exactly when it will be done.

The Sebastian County Quorum Court met Tuesday night (March 19) and tabled a decision until at least May on whether to reinstate features cut from the original design plans because of budget constraints. The features cut included a diving well and expanded lazy river which were added after the public voiced concerns in the last meeting.

“I apologize to the citizens of Sebastian County for any frustration that this causes in their views of their local government,” Judge David Hudson said following Tuesday night’s meeting.

Andy Smith, with Larkin Aquatics has been designing the aquatics park. He explained that the latest design is closer to what was originally approved by voters.

“What we’ve done is we’ve added some length to the lazy river and we’ve added a dive well in response to the comments we received,” Smith said.

“I think there’s an artificial deadline out there that says we want to have this open by May of 2014,” said Sebastian County Quorum Court Member Danny Aldridge.”If we can meet that deadline, great. But if we can’t meet that deadline and do it right, I’ve got no problems holding it up for a few more months.”

After an hour of debate, the quorum court did decide to delay the decision about the aquatics park funding and design until May.

“The budgetary information that we’ve got and the interpretation of the information and what we can do to adjust the budget is a challenge that we will continue to work through this year with the quorum court,” Judge Hudson said.

Since the vote has been delayed, construction on the project has also been pushed back according to Judge Hudson. He said that as of now, the aquatics park at Ben Geren will not open to the public until the summer of 2015.

“I think there’s an artificial deadline out there that says we want to have this open by May 31st of 2014. And if we can meet that deadline, great. But if we can’t meet that deadline and do it right, I’ve got no problems holding it up for a few more months.”

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