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QUALITY OF LIFE IN FORT SMITH

Ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for Fort Smith residents will continue well into the future.

Notable entities in Fort Smith have taken it upon themselves to enrich the lives of the people who live there. Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert said the department is designing, and hopefully constructing, a skate park on property on the riverfront in downtown Fort Smith.

“The property is actually the Marshals Museum property that was donated to them, and they’re not going to use that.” Reinert said. “The city is acquiring that property from the Marshals Museum because they moved the Marshals Museum … and so, there was always a plan for a park of some sort there, and expansion of the parking lot. ”

This skate park will be another downtown attraction.

Another collaborative effort in development is a joint project with the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority for a new trail system spanning about 7.1 miles at Chaffee Crossing.

Other upcoming projects for the Parks department include a new fishing pavilion, adding sand volleyball courts and putting in new playground equipment and a dog park at Fort Smith Park. Phase III of the Greg Smith River Trail, a 1.5-mile walking trail extension that will begin at the end of the Rice Carden Levee Trail, extending past Fort Smith Park, ending at the railroad tracks along Riverfront Drive.

The Redevelopment Authority is also building residential developments. Lorie Robertson, the FCRA director of marketing, said Chaffee Crossing currently has 25 residential developments with about 2,400 units built, under construction or planned on property sold.

They are about 47 percent single-family homes and 53 percent multi-family units. About 60 percent of these units are built. This does not include the single-family residential planned by Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in their master planned development.

“Our heaviest concentration of residential development is along the Massard Road area, and near the ArcBest corporate headquarters, and also in Barling on Highway 59 in Springhill Estates,” Robertson said. “Those are the areas right now with heaviest construction.”

A variety of other types of developments will also be coming to Chaffee Crossing, including two new soccer fields. They will be located next to the two championship fields that are already in place, making for a total of four fields on which to play.

Robertson said a pizza restaurant and steakhouse are planned for summer 2018 in the historic district. A dental office is coming soon to Chaffee Crossing as well.

FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen said these projects at Fort Chaffee play a crucial part of the development of the overall community.
“This is something Fort Smith should be proud of, and Barling ... it’ll be a neighborhood that has everything in which somebody wants to live,” Owen said.

“It’ll have every aspect of living that anybody would want without having to really to leave here.”

“There’s financial reasons that this is going to be good for the city. There’s a lot of tax reasons. Every time we sell a lot or every time a building goes up and the taxes increase, that helps the city,” Owen said.

Robertson said cities that are making moves to have developed areas like Owen described are very critical for recruiting new industry and businesses, as well as attracting talent.

“Let’s say that Nestle or Gerber or OK Foods … name your big industry, and if they’re looking to hire new plant managers or new mid-level managers, and they’re wanting those people to come here from other places, maybe bigger metropolitan areas across the U.S., they come in here and they look at this city and they see all these changes going in this type of development, and it makes them more likely to accept and to want to move here,” Robertson said.