Walton Foundation Delivers $1M for Fort Smith River Trail

Fort Smith Parks & Recreation announced Wednesday that it had received a $1 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to develop an exercise trail along the city's riverfront.

According to a news release, the money will be used to build a two-mile section of the River West Trail from River Park to the Rice Carden Levee Trail.

The news release said the trail is a "high priority" part of the Trails & Greenways Master Plan the city adopted in 2004.

"The topic of trails and greenways is just now working its way into our community conversation," Mayor Sandy Sanders said. "Nearly a decade ago, a group of citizens pushed — and pushed hard — for an extensive plan. Those same citizens have spent the past 10 years digging, pruning, trimming and building trials — a mile or two at a time.

"These acts of faith and determination allow us to accept this generous gift from our neighbors at the Walton Family Foundation."

Construction on the trail is expected to begin within the next six months and should be completed by mid-2015.

Development of the trail ties into the transformation of Fort Smith's riverfront into a commercial and tourism district, the release said. Plans to develop the riverfront have been rolling slowly since at least 2007, when Fort Smith was chosen as a location for the planned U.S. Marshals Museum.