The U.S. Marshals Museum today announced the Robbie Westphal family has completed the transfer of 16.3 acres of Fort Smith riverfront property to the museum.
The property is nearly 10 acres more than the original riverfront tract that was donated several years ago to better accommodate parking and additional amenities at the museum.
“Our family has deep ties to western Arkansas and the U.S. Marshals Service,” said Bennie Westphal. “We are committed to the continued progress in downtown Fort Smith and riverfront development. My mother, Betsy Westphal, and my sister, Robin Clegg, and I are very honored to be able to donate this property to the U.S. Marshals Museum.”
The property is subject to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation easement for channel alignment. Because it was acquired under a federal Declaration of Taking, the easement was not originally recorded at the county courthouse when the Arkansas River navigation system was built. The U.S. Marshals Museum’s engineers discovered the easement in early 2014. The museum is currently working with the Corps’ regulatory and real estate division on a plan to allow construction on the site.
Once the Corps approves the plan, the museum’s spire representing “America’s Star”—emblematic of U.S. Marshals Service 225-year history—will soar over 90 feet over the easement. In addition, the Five Civilized Tribes will construct a monument honoring tribal law enforcement. The Corps has advised it may take four to six months to secure final approval.