CBID Hears Bicycle Rental Plan, Moves Forward With Downtown Fort Smith District Assessment

FORT SMITH, Ark. (TB&P) — More bicycles could be coming to downtown Fort Smith in early 2020. Griffin Hanna, acting as an agent for Fort Smith businessman Bennie Westphal, requested a variance for the Central Business Improvement District at its regular meeting Tuesday (Nov. 19) to install two 20 foot by 8 foot metal storage containers for use as a bicycle rental facility at 417 Riverfront Drive.

The CBID Design Guidelines for the riverfront area prohibit metal buildings or buildings with metal facades. Those guidelines allow metal exteriors provided it does not exceed 20% of the gross wall area. Hanna told CBID board members the buildings would be painted by Fort Smith muralist Melody Smith. One mural would include a map of the trail system. The containers would sit on the site where Westphal had his gas well, Hanna said.

“That well has since been plugged and he is in the process of removing all the well site and material. We would like for him to keep the well pad, meaning that gravel that was on the location,” he said.

The containers would then house a bike sharing hub that would rent out bicycles, scooters, rollerblades and skateboards, Hanna said.

A bike share program began at the riverfront Nov. 1. The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a three-year contract with Zagster Inc. on June 16. According to the contract, the city will pay $18,000 a year for the program. Zagster will provide bikes and equipment. Bikes will be rented through a mobile app on a user’s smartphone, according to city records. Hanna said the bike hub would not compete with the Zagster program.

“We hope to collaborate with them. … We are trying to add something to the riverfront that kind of activates that trail system,” Hanna said.

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