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