Fort Smith Directors accepted the Girls Inc., offer to sell its property to the city for the sum of $107,500 on Tuesday (Jan. 8), but costs will not end with that initial purchase price.
The agreement came in a special meeting prior to Tuesday’s study session at the Main Library Community Room on Rogers Avenue. Following the special meeting, the board discussed a proposal to bring urban bowhunting to Fort Smith in order to control deer population.
A $100,000 portion of the total covers the property itself while the remaining $7,500 will pay the cancellation fee for a Jan. 15 auction that would have featured the property.
The city plans to use the purchase in repurposing the property at 622 North 7th Street as an indoor recreation center.
The Girls Inc., property was previously appraised at $800,000, according to Fort Smith Parks Director Mike Alsup, though Alsup was unable to confirm on Tuesday the date of the appraisal.
Alsup estimated yearly operation costs of “$250,000 to $300,000,” which he said was a “high estimate.”
“Once we get started, we’ll be able to find opportunities for cutting costs,” Alsup said.
The project will be funded through the 1/8 cent sales and use tax - the parks department’s share of monies approved through the city’s sales tax extension in March 2012.
Contingent on making the indoor recreation center a reality, the city will encounter added expenses including $150,000 in a full replacement of the building’s roof systems and an overall $1.4 million expense for renovation and parking.
The on-site facility is more than 16,000 square feet and includes a one-court gymnasium, swimming pool, and multi-purpose building that features a kitchen and performance area. The property also includes a field “that can be used for sports and outdoor activities,” Alsup said.
During the study session that followed, Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey recommended that the board approve Archery Urban Deer Hunts for the city of Fort Smith.
If approved, the deer hunts would be administered under the Urban Deer Hunt Protocol established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The city of Fort Smith and the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) would work with Arkansas Game and Fish regulations to determine appropriate hunts in order to control the growing deer population, Lindsey said.
Fort Smith Director Pam Weber said that she would not support the plan. “I’m a mother first,” Weber said, citing concerns about the proximity of hunting areas to the growing developments in Chaffee Crossing, especially homes in which children are present.
Proponents of the plan have pointed to deer-caused traffic accidents and declining health in the deer population as reasons for support.
Ultimately, Fort Smith Director Kevin Settle motioned to add the item to the Jan. 15 agenda. Director Mike Lorenz seconded.