The Fort Smith Board of Directors have cleared the final pathway for Riverfront Drive Skate and Bike Park at the original site of the United States Marshals Museum (USMM) in the downtown area.
At a meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 20), the Board approved 6-1 a decision to move forward with a plan from American Ramp Company in the amount of $600,000 to build the park and its contents. Director George Catsavis was the lone dissenting vote.
Fort Smith-based Frontier Engineering prepared a request for proposals (RFP) for the park. Sealed RFPs were received from American Ramp, Grindline Skate, and Heartland Park and Recreation, LLC, on Jan. 24. Heartland’s proposal was rejected as it “improperly purported to amend the timeline required set forth by the RFP,” said Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert.
A committee consisting of Reinert and Casey Millspaugh, chairperson of the citizens-led parks commission; Nick Gibson, manager of BoarderTown Skate Shop; and Frontier’s Bobby Aldridge made the final selections based on interviews with American Ramp and Grindline. A Jan. 29 review found American Ramp “the most qualified through a scoring process,” Reinert said.
Although funded by the private sector, the contract and construction will be under the purview of city government, thus necessitating Tuesday’s vote.
Private interests on the project were led by Steve Clark of Propak Logistics, Sam Sicard of First National Bank of Fort Smith, and Bill Hanna of Hanna Oil & Gas, “though there were others, it wasn’t just us,” Clark told Talk Business & Politics after the meeting, adding the contributors were able to secure “not less than $600,000 in private funding.” An undisclosed portion of that amount comes from the Walton Family Foundation as well. Sicard — through FNB — was the initial contributor and the only one to disclose the amount ($100,000, made public on Oct. 13).
The private share of funds will go toward building the park and supplying its contents while the city will own the land and assume ownership of the whole, managing day-to-day operations.
On Feb. 6, the city approved a contract for its share of the park with Silco Construction in the amount of $466,511. That money will be used for construction of the parking area and amenities improvements. The funds will be paid out of the voter-approved 1/8-cent sales and use tax. In its letter of interest, the Joplin-based American Ramp, which has been building parks for over 20 years, said it would do everything it can “to blow this project and the grand opening out of the water.”
American Ramp Vice President John Hunter promised the company’s team “will assist the city and project team in making the grand opening of this park a huge success.”
“We will leverage our relationships to bring other companies and industry professionals to the table to provide giveaways and sponsorships. We will commit to having professional skaters and bikers at the park opening and make sure the park opens in a memorable fashion,” Hunter said.
The design is based in part on the company’s work at K-Town Plaza in Kanab, Utah. American Ramp’s proposal lists its “Final Walk/Sign-Off” date as May 16, finishing the park just in time for a planned Memorial Day opening.