Fort Smith Board approves more money for Parrot Island water slide

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,051 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted to fund a new slide at Parrot Island Waterpark. The city and Sebastian County Quorum Court each previously voted to contribute $250,000 toward the expansion of Parrot Island Waterpark with a new slide following the completion of the FlowRider amenity.

The $250,000 for the expansion was included in the city’s 2021 budget. However, in order to build the slide needed for the city, another $220,833 is needed, Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman told the board Tuesday (March 16) at the city’s regular board meeting.

The original plan for the new slide was to replace the yellow “body slide” at the park with new fiberglass for a “tube slide.” The new slide would come off the existing slide tower, which can only serve four slides. The yellow slide has been modified and now functions properly, Dingman said.

“We prefer to keep it operational and add a new, fifth slide to the park instead of replacing one of the original four slides,” Dingman said.

The new slide will be the first tube slide for the park. But the construction of a new slide requires an additional, separate slide tower and pump house support structure.

“These items will be built with future expansion in mind, so that up to three additional slides might be added relatively easily in the future,” Dingman said in a memo on the funding needed for the project.

The city’s total share of the slide expansion project is expected to be $470,833, Dingman said.

“Revenues were expected to take a significant decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which subsequently led to departments tightening their budgets in order to absorb the projected economic shock. However, Fort Smith did not realize the anticipated economic impact of the pandemic and sales tax revenues have been coming in above revenue estimates. Therefore, an appropriation from the additional (above budgeted) Parks Sales Tax revenues realized in both 2020 and 2021 is needed to fund the additional amount needed from the City for the expansion of Parrot Island Waterpark,” Dingman said in the memo.

The extra funding will not take money away from any budgeted parks projects in 2021, said Director of Parks & Recreation Doug Reinert. The board unanimously approved the ordinance for the extra funds.

In November, City Administrator Carl Geffken told directors that Parrot Island had a difficult 2020 fiscal year because of the pandemic. It had an attendance of 59,248 and a total revenue of $1.003 million for the year. With total expenses at $1.301, the park ended the season with a $297,973 deficit. However, Settle and Geffken noted this was an anomaly and the park had made money every other year. In 2019 Parrot Island had $1.351 million in total revenue with $1.273 million in total expenses for a net gain of $77,527. Attendance in 2019 was 91,589.

Mayor George McGill also announced at the meeting that the city would host a second mass COVID vaccine clinic May 5. The city hosted a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Feb. 24 at the Fort Smith Convention Center. It will host a clinic Wednesday (March 17) for those received their first shot at that clinic and need their second shot.