Monday, April 28, 2008

Splendid Setting Awaits Arkansas State Park Campers

MOUNTAINBURG — The biggest difference between the old Lake Fort Smith State Park and its replacement is the location.

“It’s a spectacular setting,” said Greg Butts, parks director at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

“The new park is actually on the lake.” Crews were busy working last week to finish construction on various parts of the park.

Butts couldn’t give a firm date on the $ 22 million park’s opening until he received an update from Fort Smith officials on unfinished projects at the 260-acre park. A dedication ceremony, however, is set June 19.

The park replaces one destroyed when Fort Smith embarked on the $ 180 million expansion of its water supply.

Since Fort Smith had to destroy the park to expand its water supply, itagreed to pay for the $ 12 million replacement value of the park, with the Parks and Tourism Department chipping in another $ 10 million for amenities.

Building a new park from scratch provided officials the opportunity to relocate it to overlook the lake.

Planners chose a spot near the old Lake Shepherd Springs dam on the west side of the lake. A portion of that dam now juts into the lake as a part of a dayuse area.

Designers also have recreated the rustic beauty of the old WPA buildings in structures at the new park through the use of native stonework and vaulted ceilings, wood-paneled walls and massive wooden beams, Butts said.

Crews also are building 34 campsites and 15 recreationalvehicle campsites on the park’s east end. The RV campsites will have water, electric and sewer hook-ups. Campsites will have grills, lantern hangers and tent pads. Bathhouses also will be available.
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