The city of Fort Smith is working to replace a city dog park that was closed the first of December, and City Administrator Carl Geffken announced during a Fort Smith Board of Directors study session Tuesday night (Jan. 11) one should be coming by spring.
Geffken told the board during a comment section of the meeting that the city has been working with Sebastian County and the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) to replace the Airport 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 necessitated the closure of the Airport Dog Park Dec. 1, Geffken said.
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 a new military mission at Ebbing Air National Guard base at the airport. The base was selected last year to be the long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by countries participating in the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It is estimated that 345 U.S. military personnel will be part of the center along with 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.
Geffken told directors Tuesday that the city is working with the county and FCRA for a proposed dog park near the Sebastian County Soccer Fields on land in Chaffee Crossing. The 22-acre park would have an open area, water and trees, Geffken said. Director Lavon Morton said the park would also need benches. Geffken said details would be worked out once the park proposal was completed.
“The county will have to deed land (to the city) and the rest would have to come from FCRA,” Geffken said, noting that everyone seemed to be in agreement and plans were moving forward.
Once the park is completed it would be owned and maintained by the city, he added.
“I think it’s important to note that we heard what our citizens were saying and we are delivering what they want,” said Director Neal Martin.
The city has two other dog parks: A 1.24 acre dog park at 8204 Veterans Ave., in Chaffee Crossing that was deeded to the city in June, and one 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.