Fort Smith Water Park Costs Jump To More Than $10 Million

Posted on: 10:29 pm, December 17, 2013, by , updated on: 10:54pm, December 17, 2013

After more than an hour of heated discussion, Fort Smith city directors Tuesday night voted 4-3 to put $10.9 million toward a local aquatics center.

The directors voting in favor of the measure said the extra money was needed to build additional attractions that would ultimately pay off in the end.

“Nobody wants a second-class water park,” said city director Mike Lorenz. “They want us to be the best and the biggest in the region.”

City directors initially voted for a plan that would have cost less than $9 million.

“I voted against the vote that was in front of me,” city director Philip Merry, Jr., said Tuesday.

“The funding is coming from the existing parks tax that voters already approved,” said city director Kevin Settle.

The park will be the home to attractions like slides, a lazy river and a diving and wave pool. A survey of 677 Northside High School students showed 35 percent want to see a wave pool most.

“The wave pool is really an attraction,” said Settle. “It’s really something we need to do. The nearest wave pool is over 129 miles away.”

In addition to city directors, many Fort Smith taxpayers were also in attendance at the meeting.

“They want a water park,” said David Harris. “But, they also voted for an $8 million  water park, not a 10.9 million dollar water park.”

With some for and against, city leaders said they are hoping to break ground by late winter or early spring of 2014.

Directors are hoping the aquatics center will open its doors by Memorial Day of 2015.


  • Pennywise says:

    Ridiculous waste of money.

  • Confused says:

    Why they aren’t using a local contractor that can do what was suggested for 3 million less is beyond me.

    • Larry says:

      They can’t use local contractors because it won’t get done correctly. The city knows better. It may cost 3 mil less but it will cost 6 mil to fix everything.

  • Tom Ford says:

    Water parks are popping up around the country. They are great investments for the city. Water parks provide jobs, increase tourism quality of life and sales tax. They are not large scale per say but it enhances the quality of Ben Geren and will drive more traffic, more gasoline, food and even hotel revenue. This same business model has been used increasingly through the US. Springdale, and now Rogers in NWA made investments and they have paid off as promised. Investments like this keep a town growing. Parks and recreation are direct drivers of quality of life and happiness. They enhances the lives of our young children, provide a safe outlet for teenagers and contribute to the sense of community. And yes they are an attraction which bring in regional ‘tourist’. If advertised some people traveling I-40 and I-49 will make it a destination.
    Bravo to the city leader for having the vision to make sound decisions and lead us into the future. A sound investment, revenue generator driving tourism and quality of life.

  • Sabrina says:

    10.9 Million seems a bit high, but if kept up and promoted right it is a good way to attract tourist and locals because face it there is nothing for the kids to do in Fort Smith and as for the pool in Creekmore park it was long ago out dated when I was going their 30 years ago.

  • Paula says:

    Once again Fort smith city leaders have lied to the people about money. They do it every single time. What a bunch of worthless idiots! This entire area is going down the toilet. Another thing that made me mad this week was the big bonus paid to the chaffee development direct. What has he done to deserve a bonus the size that a coporate office would receive in a BIG company

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