The Riverfront Skate and Bike Park has been an attraction for Fort Smith residents and visitors alike and plans are in the works for an expansion.

“It’s been incredibly successful. I think you’ve all seen children of all ages and adults of all ages down there, especially on the skate park portion,” City Administrator Carl Geffken said Tuesday at the Board of Directors study session. “It’s one of the only ones in the state, if not in the region. It’s definitely a destination.”

Geffken said visitors have come from northwest Arkansas, Tulsa and cities in Missouri, to name a few.

Downtown business owners and donors for the skate park want to grow the park, which includes plans to add boulder climbers, potentially a ropes course and other climbing activities.

The current park also includes beginner and intermediate bicycle pump tracks. Included in the expansion plans is the development of an advanced pump track.

These additions would be placed on 2.36 acres, purchased from the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation for $160,000, adjacent to the current park. The land offer was originally for only one acre, but the parcel has been extended.

The land would be purchased by the city, which would also perform any contract work related to land prep, design, electrical and other needs. Amenities would be purchased through private donations.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert told the board funding would come from shifting priorities on various parks projects already on the department’s capital improvement plan, which is funded by the one-eighth cent sales tax.

There are a couple of options, including moving money from some of the trails projects that aren’t fully funded anyway, or smaller projects that aren’t a high priority and can wait a few more years.

Reinert said the Maybranch Trail and Chaffee Crossing Trails will not be impacted, and the money being considered for the riverfront expansion are for those in the northeast side of town.

The Parks Department and Park Partners group will pursue additional grants to complete the trails. Any money put toward this project also won’t impact the goals or expectations required of the department set by donors for other projects.

“It’s a positive way to, at the moment, start taking the one-eighth cent sales tax to show our residents we’re really investing this money in amenities that they like and that have been very successful,” Geffken said.

The different amenities will be installed in phases, depending on the amount of funds secured. The first structures would include climbing rocks, which are designed for easy climbing without harnesses and only eight to 10 feet high, and an advanced bike track. Larger climbing obstacles would be considered next. Lastly, a full-scale ropes course would be the final addition.

Some of the phasing decisions are based on cost, overall need, potential staffing and safety considerations, said Bobby Aldridge of Frontier Engineering. The local company designed the current park.

Aldridge said First National Bank President Sam Sicard, Hanna Oil and Gas President Bill Hanna, ProPak CEO Steve Clark and other benefactors have so far secureed about $500,000.

Aside from the land purchase, there is a budget of $1.3 million for the project. It is expected to be privately funded.

Baptist Health and Mercy Health will match donations up to $250,000 each, and the project is on the Walton Foundation’s list of funding requests for next year to at least match what has already been raised.

Aldridge said the reason they’re going back to the Walton Foundation is because it suggested adding the advanced bike course.

Geffken said nothing with the project will move forward until the money is available.

The board will vote at 6 p.m. Tuesday on whether to purchase the land.