Ft. Smith Board Purchases Building for Recreation Center

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted 6-1 to purchase a building from Girls, Inc., to build a city recreation center during a special meeting Tuesday.

The city will purchase a vacant facility which includes a gym, swimming pool, performance area, and kitchen, located at 622 N. 7th Street and the six lots surrounding the building for $107,500.

The recreation center will offer programming for adults and kids and could be open by 2015, according to Parks Director Mike Alsup. The new recreation center would service an area that Girls, Inc., used to provide for.

“[We’re] talking about an area that I believe is underserved and yeah, Girls, Inc., used to be there but economics made them pick one neutral single site so I imagine they’re glad the city is going to try to pick up where they left off,” Philip Merry, board member, said.

It’s expected to cost another $150,000 to make repairs to the facility’s roof and drainage system and up to $1.4 million for other renovations and parking. Alsup said the project will be funded by an existing eighth-cent sales tax.  

“The city sent a signal with the sales tax for public parks and such,” Merry said. “We want this place to be fun and quality of life driven, for grandparents to take their grandkids out when they have them on the weekend or for you and I on Sunday afternoons, so it will spur that on and be in line with that vote.”

Merry said he’s also happy to support Girls, Inc., by voting in favor of the purchase.

“Girls, Inc., is legendary in its pursuit to help girls be smart, bold, and true and strong, it’s a wonderful effort in our area to help ladies learn and do the right they and they’ve been doing it for decades. So where the city can help, I’m glad,” he said.  

City officials expect it to cost between $250,000-$300,000 a year to keep the facility running.