Updated renderings of a long-planned aquatics center were made available last week as Fort Smith and Sebastian County leaders seek potential contractors.
The city and county are splitting the $10.9 million cost to construct the aquatics center at Ben Geren Regional Park on Zero Street. Earlier this month, they broke ground on the project, which is planned to include a wave pool, four water slides ranging from 30 to 40 feet in height, a children’s play area, an activity pool with basketball goals and a 500-foot "lazy river."
The updated renderings depict an overall layout of the proposed park, in addition to details of the children’s play structure and the four slides, two of which will empty into a plunge pool.
According to Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack, those final plans are out for bid.
"They’re opening bids on April 10," he said. "They have a little over 30 different bid packages."
In an email sent Friday to the Fort Smith Board of Directors and Parks Director Mike Alsup, Gosack notes that, "This number of bid packages will give smaller contractors greater opportunity to be part of the project."
Sebastian County Judge David Hudson informed the Quorum Court this week that construction contracts are expected to be awarded in late April or early May. Gosack said he may request the Board of Directors hold a special meeting to award the contracts "in order to keep this project on schedule for a grand opening on Memorial Day weekend 2015."
"I may ask the board for a special meeting at the beginning of the April 22 study session," he said. "But we’ll need to see how the bids are that come in."
Tulsa-based Flintco Constructive Solutions, the project’s construction manager, will make recommendations to the board, Gosack said.
"Flintco will check the backgrounds of the low bidders," he said. "If they see concerns, they’ll alert us."
The next tasks include updating the operating and business plan, creating a name for the aquatics center and deciding whether a management company should be hired to operate the facility, Gosack said.
Fort Smith’s half of the then-$8 million project was approved in March 2012 when voters agreed to reconfigure an existing sales tax that also funds other city improvements.