A more than $2 million expansion project at Lake Fort Smith State Park first announced during the 2012 The Compass Conference has been completed, according to a statement from the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.
Located almost halfway between Fort Smith and Fayetteville, the park is eight miles north of Mountainburg on U.S. 71.
State Parks Director Greg Butts said the 10 new cabins at Lake Fort Smith State Park are now available to rent. Five of the cabins house one bedroom and clock in at 896 square feet, while the other five will consist of two bedrooms at 1,152 square feet. The cabins were designed by Tim A. Risley & Associates of Fort Smith, with Steele Development, of Bentonville, handling the construction.
Funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas’s 1/8-cent conservation tax, the one-story cabin designs are reminiscent of the 1930s WPA style – with some of the stone used being reclaimed from the original park site. Each cabin includes a great room with wood-burning fireplace, high definition satellite TV, kitchen, and dining area. At the back of each cabin is a large, elevated covered deck with a woods view. On the ground level below are a picnic table and grill.
“The park is a first-class recreational destination. And, these cabins will provide quality overnight accommodations for park guests,” Butts said in the statement. “With the opening of these 10 new cabins, we have now replaced all the facilities that park visitors enjoyed through the decades.”
The project totaled $2,146,536, which also included road and parking area paving and utility work.
To meet the needs of visitors with disabilities, two cabins — a one-bedroom cabin and a two-bedroom cabin — are barrier-free designs. Tubs are not offered in these two barrier-free cabins. Instead, the bathroom in the one-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower. The two-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower in one bathroom and a walk-in shower in the other.
In the four other one-bedroom cabins (those that not barrier-free), the bathrooms feature spa tubs. In the other two-bedroom cabins (those that are not barrier-free), one bathroom features a spa tub and the other bathroom has a walk-in shower.
“With the 10 new cabins, we’ve brought back the look and feel of the WPA style while increasing their size and the amenities they offer,” he said. “We have created new places for new experiences, and we now have new cabins that will be passed from generation to generation,” Lake Fort Smith Park Superintendent Ron Gossage said in the statement.
Lake Fort Smith State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. A partnership between the City of Fort Smith and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT), the park reopened in May 2008 at its new site on the western side of Lake Fort Smith.
The park closed in January 2002 to be relocated from its original site due to the enlarging of Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs into a single reservoir to meet the future municipal water needs of the Fort Smith area. The City owns the 258-acre park and leases it to the ADPT. Fort Smith officials provided $12 million to fund the new park, and the Arkansas funded another $10 million from Amendment 75.
In addition to the cabins, the park includes 30 campsites, group facilities including a dining hall and two group lodges with kitchenettes, picnic sites, a pavilion, swimming pool, marina with boat rentals, boat launch ramp, trails, playground, and a visitor center with exhibits and a meeting/classroom.