The city is partnering with a national organization that will build two outdoor fitness courts in Fort Smith.
The National Fitness Campaign selected Fort Smith and nine other cities to place these fitness courts, said Jurena Storm, the government affairs liaison to the mayor’s office. One of the courts will feature art by Jean Michel Basquiat, a world-renowned artist, and the other will feature work by a local artist.
It will cost $425,000 to build the courts. The city will pay the fee exclusively through donations. The mayor’s office has already collected $250,000 in donations for the project.
Storm said she did not have a timeline for when construction will begin on the courts.
“Since COVID a lot of residents and visitors have been looking for outdoor fitness facilities, and this is our opportunity to be in the forefront of that,” Storm said at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting. “Not only that Fort Smith is becoming known as a public art destination, thanks to downtown 64.6 Downtown and the Unexpected project, and having a world-renowned artist having their work displayed here will just add to our tourism and make us a destination place.”
The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a resolution in support of the project Tuesday night.
The only expense to the city is maintenance costs and the cost of putting down concrete slabs at each of the locations.
The fitness court with Basquiat’s work will be in Chaffee Crossing, where the new dog park will be located, and the fitness court with a local artist’s work will be at the skate park.
Storm said she specifically liked the idea of having a fitness court in the dog park.
‘While the dogs are playing, you work out,” Storm said.
Mayor George McGill raved about Basquiat’s work and said “we’ve been awarded something that many cities only dream about.”
“This is a big win,” Director Jarred Rego said.
Basquiat’s work sells for as much as $5 million to $10 million, McGill said. He added that Fort Smith is the first city in Arkansas to partner with the National Fitness Campaign and create outdoor fitness courts.
Director André Good noted the benefit of the courts for their artistic value but also as a means to exercise.
“This is not only an attraction for art but an attraction for health,” Good said.
Alex Gladden is a University of Arkansas graduate. She previously reported for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Jonesboro Sun before joining the Times Record. She can be contacted at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: City to bring new way to work out to residents