Inclusive playground planned for Creekmore Park; homeless service plan again tabled

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,254 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors unanimously approved spending $548,853 on a new inclusive playground at Creekmore Park. The Parks and Recreation department has removed an old structure at the park, which had been there more than 20 years and had fallen in disrepair.

“We could no longer get replacement parts, and therefore, it was no longer compliant,” said Doug Reinart, director of Parks and Recreation. “With our direction of inclusivity, this new playground will also be an inclusive playground and encompass the same footprint as the old one.”

ACS Playground Adventures, Inc. will install a playground that will feature a variety of amenities designed for individuals of all abilities, including multi-play artificial turf in lieu of the traditional wood fiber mulch, Reinart said in a memo on the playground.

Funding is allocated in the one-eighth cent sales and use Tax Program. This project is in alignment with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan policy that seeks to transition from Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility to inclusion for individuals of all abilities in the renovation and development of all facilities, parks, and trails, improve the health and well-being of residents, increase the amount of open space and opportunities for recreation, and increase the use of parks, open space, and recreational programming, Reinart said.

The new playground will feature a multi-activity climber, Sway-Fun Glider, Oodle Swing, a We-Go-Round, Euroflex half balls, and outdoor musical instruments. The project is expected to be completed by August.

“These amenities are almost mandatory in today’s environment trying to attract business, trying to attract families,” said Mayor George McGill.

In other business, the board voted to table a request to approve a planned zoning district (PZD) at 815 S. Sixth Street by Next Step Day Room (NSDR). The item will be brought back before the board after it has had the chance to listen to local business that will be affected by the PZD. Director Lavon Morton made the motion to table the item.

This is the second time this year NSDR has gone before the board in an attempt to move its homeless services. In February, NSDR rescinded it’s request for a zoning change that would have allowed it move operations from North Sixth Street to South U Street. The matter was originally presented to the board Jan. 4 at a regular meeting. It was tabled at that time to allow the board to discuss the matter during the Jan. 25 board study session. Sharon Chapman, NSDR executive director, would eventually withdraw the original plan after other board delays.

The new facility would have 20 individual units (tiny houses) for non-congregant houses. Each unit would have heat, air conditioning, electricity and a bed. Residents would have access to showers, meals, and laundry facilities seven days a week, the NSDR plan states. The request to move to 815 S. Sixth St. would also be for non-congregant housing without an emergency dayroom.

“I am against tabling this. After they requested to move to U Street, we asked them to go back and look for a non-residential area. They have jumped through every hoop we have put up. They have addressed every concern. Now they’ve gone before the planning commission three times,” said Director Robyn Dawson, noting the planning commission had approved the PZD. “I just feel they have done everything the board has asked and more. I think we owe it to them not to put this off.

“There is not going to be a place in Fort Smith where there is not some resistance to this facility,” Dawson added.

Tabling the matter was approved by a vote of four to two with directors Dawson and Jarred Rego voting against it. Director André Good was absent from the meeting.