Quorum Court to Vote on Aquatics Center

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An aquatics park for Fort Smith could soon be closer to reality, depending on what the Sebastian County Quorum Court decides Tuesday night. This is will be the second time they've met on the issue since voters approved the project almost a year ago.

The plans for the aquatics center at Ben Geren which voters approved in March of 2012 have been altered due to funding issues, according to Channon Toland, the Sebastian County Park Administrator.

"From the original concept drawing that was shown, there's a few things that have changed because of constraints on the money," Toland said.

Proposed plans for a diving well and a lazy river have been cut as a result.

Justice of the Peach Danny Aldridge, R-District 6, said he's not happy with the changes.

"The proposed plan has kind of been shrunk down to where it's more of an overgrown kiddy pool so to speak and the people want what all of the family can enjoy," Aldridge said.

Aldridge also explained that he's had lots of people contact him who are upset the plans for the diving well and lazy river have been changed.

"I understand the frustration and I would've loved to of kept everything the way it was," Toland told 5NEWS. "But to do that, we'll have to have everyone agree on what's best for the aquatics center as well as for Sebastian County."

To restore the original aquatics park design, including both the diving well and lazy river, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson says more money is needed.

"The original design was recalculated at $9.2 million," Hudson said. "So that's a $1.2 different than the $8 million."

Previously, the aquatics center was estimated to cost about $7.4 million.

Aldridge told 5NEWS he hopes they can come up with some sort of compromise and get the people what was promised without having it cost $1.2 million more than was proposed.

"Concrete hasn't gone up that much," Aldridge said. "Labor certainly hasn't gone up. Now let's find a way to get the people what they want at a realistic figure."

Both Hudson and Toland told 5NEWS they're excited to see the aquatics center construction begin and have the community out to enjoy it by the summer of 2014.

"We're still on track,"  Toland said. "You know we've had a few hiccups here along the way but we're still on track to open on time and hopefully we'll get this up and running and everyone can come out and enjoy themselves."

"I'm confident that we're going to build an aquatics facility," Hudson said. "That it's going to be an asset to our area and that it's going to support our families and children in this area very well."

As of now, the Aquatics Center is scheduled to open to the public on Memorial Day of 2014.

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