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Fort Smith officials discuss riverfront development, suggest renovation at Kelley Park

Fort Smith city leaders are discussing replacing the Riverfront Amphitheater with a bigger venue.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Replacing the Riverfront Amphitheater at Harry E. Kelley Park with a bigger venue could help draw more people to Fort Smith and to the city’s river, Fort Smith City Director Kevin Settle said during a board of directors study session Tuesday night (March 9).

“If we could replace that with an amphitheater with seating for 5,000 or so, move the stage over to in front of the river, so people could look at the river during events, we could have a really nice outdoor venue. It could be a nice performance facility on the river,” Settle said. 

The board was discussing development on the river and what the city wanted to see happen with it. 

City Administrator Carl Geffken said over the past five years, the city has seen the building of the U.S. Marshals Museum, the Riverfront Bike and Skate Park and the Greg Smith River Trail. The city also has purchased 312 acres on the north end of the riverfront area for a public-private partnership to build soft trails for mountain biking, hiking, etc.

“There is additional development on the horizon, and the city is investing in infrastructure to incentivize that development. The infrastructure includes water and sewer lines and the extension of Kelley Highway to Riverfront Drive,” Geffken said in a memo to the board of directors included with information on the study session. 

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