Report of River Valley Sports Complex Shows Unsafe And Poor Construction; City Seeks Ideas On Starting Over

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- On August 16, the City of Fort Smith closed an open request for proposals concerning the River Valley Sports Complex.

The city was soliciting proposals from a qualified developer for the development of the property at Chaffee Crossing.

City leaders have said they hope to have a plan for the River Valley Sports Complex by the end of 2018.

The proposals will be a way for the city to decide what will happen to the property moving forward.

Prior to the deadline, to accept proposals city leaders hired Morrison Shipley Engineers of Fort Smith to assess the property to give them an idea of what shape the site was in. The report was turned over in a 20-page report that took nearly a week to complete.

In the report, experts said they found concrete storm drainage piping on the property that had been used in previous installations damaged, which likely happened due to removal and or transport.

The report also shows poor masonry work on some of the existing buildings at the site. It also mentions safety concerns due to some buildings improper construction.

Experts also recommended leveling the existing structures and starting over as a cost-effective measure.

In the meantime, the Fort Smith Parks Department is maintaining the site.

"We look to see if people are wandering around the site. Most importantly to make sure our best management practices are still in place, that if we have large rain events the sandbags and dirt checks and fences are still up and operating," said parks director Doug Reinert.

Crews will continue the maintenance until city leaders decide what to do with the property.

"It's basically a blank slate. So, whatever they decide that they want to dream up could possibly be out here. It could be ball fields, soccer fields or some other sort of venue," Reinert.

Monday (June 18), former state senator Jake Files was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on fraud and money laundering charges.

Files resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. He admitted to taking thousands of dollars in federal grant money intended for construction of The River Valley Sports Complex at Chaffee Crossing.

Files and Lee Webb Jr., the two partners of River Valley Sports Complex Inc. were behind the original idea of the River Valley Sports Complex and through a contract with the city, the complex was to be completed by July 30th, 2016.

Their contract with the city was terminated on February 7, 2017, when city leaders say the completion date was pushed back several times.

The City of Fort Smith gave River Valley Sports Complex Inc. 1.6 million as their part of the investment and donated the land for the complex.

Now, the city is suing Webb and Files.

Several contractors are suing the city for money they did not receive for work completed. But city leaders say the payment should fall on River Valley Sports Complex Inc. since the work was done when they had a contract with the company and the company was assuming all responsibility.