The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a resolution Tuesday night (Aug. 3) accepting the donation of a dog park at Chaffee Crossing that will replace a dog park to be lost in a planned extension of the Fort Smith Regional Airport runway.
ERC Holdings of Fort Smith constructed the 1.24 acre dog park at 8204 Veterans Ave in Chaffee Crossing at a cost of approximately $100,000. At the time the park opened Oct. 1 2020, the company said it would convey the property to the city for a city park. The land donated is approximately 1.39 acres.
Stonecrest Dog Park includes separate areas for large and small dogs, multiple agility obstacles, a gravel walking path around the fenced area, a drinking fountain for pets and people, and a parking lot for visitors. The exercise areas feature a ramp, spiral tubes, slalom and tractor tires and a 100-foot by 200-foot running yard with a spiral exercise mound.
Mars Petcare Fort Smith has volunteered to oversee the maintenance of the dog park, noted a memo from Doug Reinert, director of Parks & Recreation. The parks department is working with Mars Petcare to prepare a formal maintenance agreement.
The park is located near the trails at Chaffee Crossing, the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center and Wells Lake. Kathy Coleman, director of Single-Family Marketing & Design for ERC Holdings, said the decision to build the dog park “was inspired by the fact that 95% of The HUB at Providence residents own a dog, and we felt that a dog park was one more area that would add to the quality of life in Chaffee Crossing. It was an investment that was easily made by all of us at ERC.”
Lorie Robertson, director of marketing for FCRA, said ERC had purchased land behind Bost all the way to Roberts Boulevard, which they are developing. The dog park lies in that area, but the portion where it is located is under an existing cell tower on Veteran’s Avenue.
“You can’t build under (a cell tower),” Robertson said. “It was their decision to turn (the area) into an amenity that would be open to the people in the area.”
The park comes at a time when the city is working on solutions for replacing the city dog park located at the corner of Massard Road and Louisville Street on the east side of Fort Smith. The $22 million extension of the primary runway at the Fort Smith Regional Airport expected to begin in May 2022 will close the Airport Dog Park, City Administrator Carl Geffken has said. No date has been announced for a closing.
The city committed $5 million toward a $22 million project to extend the runway by 1,300 additional feet. The $22 million dollar project is a collaboration between the state, which committed the other $17 million for the project, and the city for new military mission at Ebbing Air National Guard base at the airport. The base was recently selected to be the long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by counties participating in the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It is estimated that 345 U.S. military personnel would be part of the center and an estimated 180-plus members of the Singapore unit and around 300 dependents. Training and aircraft from Finland and Poland may also be part of the FMS site in the future.
The city also has a dog park at Fort Smith Park, 5301 Riverfront Drive. The dog park at Fort Smith Park was completed in July 2018, according to Sara Deuster, deputy director Fort Smith Parks & Recreation. There are separate areas for large and small dogs, with each area having agility obstacles.
“Our parks staff converted old fire hydrants into drinking fountains for the dogs,” Deuster said of the park.
The historic flooding of the Arkansas River in 2019 and a tornado in May caused damages to amenities at Fort Smith Park. The park is still open to the public, but repairs are needed, she said. Those repairs are on the department’s winter list.
Fort Smith Parks and Recreation has 33 parks in the city. This does not include the numerous medians, islands and greenspaces it maintains throughout the city.