This is the 330 archers that the city of Ft. Smith purchased in November of 2018 from Kansas City Southern Railroad for $104,000. This was funded by the city 1/8% Trails and Greenways Sales and use Tax Program. Bobby Aldridge from Frontier Engineering developed a master plan with an estimated cost of $4.8 million to construct. This was done with guidance from Bill Hann from the Fort Smith Central Business Improvement District board.
Prior to this discussion with Aldridge it was determined by the city that the estimated five miles of soft surface trails would cost $500,000 to build and connect to the river front green way.
Doug Reinert the Director of Parks & Recreation stated that the proceeds from the 1/8% sales tax will not be available due to other allocations and the planned expiration date of Sept. 30, 2022.
Reinert made clear that " The department would primarily focus on repair and maintenance, and its capital improvement projects would be considerably slowed". Reinert said the Parks and Recreation Commission will have to vote to add the canopy trail and soft-surface trail project to the Parks Department's capital improvement plan for it to move forward. Then the canopy trail will need to be voted on by the city directors.
The [Fort Smith] Parks Department received $839,761 in grants and other outside contributions in 2020, and more than $1.5 million , according to the plan.
Fort Smith sales tax
The city’s current tax rate is 9.75%. 6.5% goes to the state, 2% to the city and 1.25% to Sebastian County. Of the city’s 2%, 1% is dedicated to streets, drainage and bridges; 0.75% is for redemption of sales and use tax bond issues; and 0.25% is for Fire Department and parks operations, as well as capital projects.
The 1.25% for Sebastian County is split between 1% for public safety, public library, park capital maintenance, senior citizen programs, downtown development and projects, public transit and privilege license replacement; and 0.25% for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Source: Fort Smith Finance Department
FOORC Trail Coordinators have agreed to access, mark and begin the trail development in late January 2022 with other community partners. This is very similar to the 2 miles of new trails built by FOORC in August in 2021 at Springhill Park in Barling AR. FOORC mission is to advocate for, building, maintaining, and preserving sustainable multi-use soft-surface trails.
The Canopy trail can be started with donations, event fundraisers, grants, and the City of Fort Smith working together toward a common goal that benefits everyone. This trail system potentially could boost tourism and local economies around these trail destinations as they get more refined.
Other more detailed sources
This artist's conception shows part the proposed canopy trail on Riverside Drive in Fort Smith, which includes a viewing station looking out over the Arkansas River. Officials say city voters will need to approve extending a city sales tax for park projects to continue moving forward. (Courtesy Photo/Rogue Trails, Frontier Engineering)