- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - The people behind an Arkansas museum dedicated to U.S. Marshals are working with the Army Corps of Engineers on officially securing land in Fort Smith for the building.

Museum president and CEO Jim Dunn said the Robert Westphal family is ready to donate a 15.9-acre tract along the Arkansas River to the museum, but that an easement issue with the Army Corps of Engineers has to be resolved first, the Times Record reported (https://bit.ly/1vuMt2q).

During the title search in preparation for the property transfer, the museum’s civil engineer discovered the Corps’ easement that was first marked in the 1960s.

In case of the bank’s erosion, the easement was a way for the Corps to repair and stabilize the bank to keep the river open for navigation.

“That’s the issue with the Corps of Engineers and it exists in places all up and down the river,” Dunn said. “Despite reports of us not owning the property, the Westphals are still committed to transferring the property, but we have to work out the Corps of Engineers issue first.”

Museum officials don’t know the extent of the easement, but will have conversations with the Corps to learn more, Dunn said. If the easement isn’t relinquished or changed, the museum may have to build father away from the Arkansas River.

“We don’t want to move it back 300 feet because the museum is designed to take advantage of the riverfront,” Dunn said.

Dunn said the family will transfer property once the easement with the Corps is worked out. An architect will be hired and then site work will begin.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held last week. The estimated $50 million museum is projected to open in 2017.

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Information from: Southwest Times Record, https://www.swtimes.com/


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