Members of the Van Buren City Council have approved a three-year lease with Riverlights Marina for the current facility at 300 S. First St. Plans to renovate the Van Buren marina will provide needed services and docking capacity for a section of the Arkansas River that currently has virtually no service, according to the developer.
James R. Johnson III of Vian, president of Riverlights, has said Riverlights plans to construct a permanent docking facility for up to 60 vessels of more than 26 feet each and two service docks at the marina as well as a smaller dock for other recreational boats.
“Riverlights in its Phase 1 development will provide floating docks with a refueling facility, electrical hookups, sewage pumpout, water, security light, video surveillance, signage and links to local ground transportation,” Johnson said.
“This project will give the non-trailerable boats on the Arkansas River a destination in a reasonably full-service and tourism-based town with land transportation available for disembarked boaters,” he said.
Johnson said the nearest marinas of any size are located more than 30 miles from Van Buren: Applegate Marina on Kerr Lake in Oklahoma and Russellville Marina on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.
“Phase 1 slips to be constructed at Riverlights Marina will provide a benefit to boaters, the communities of Van Buren and Fort Smith and the surrounding area,” he said.
Johnson said local and more distant boaters will find it easy to dock at the marina for the day or overnight to enjoy the area.
“Expanded use of the city’s tourist area is obvious and the economic impact to Van Buren should be very positive,” Johnson said. “The new marina should add to a renewed level of public waterway use as well as leisure and fishing activity in the area.”