Parks debates dogs, scarecrows, Eagle Scouts and the late Claude Fuller in meeting
"If you build it, they will come."
This line from 1989's "Field of Dreams" could serve as the theme of this week's meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission, which covered a broad list of items in a little over two hours.
Jeremy McGraw, whose Creative Energy photography project appeared last year in Basin Spring Park, appeared before the commission to get their blessing on his next project, making Halloween an official city festival through the month of October.
McGraw said he "wanted to do a thing with scarecrows" before outlining a set of October events which would celebrate the season and tie together several different events with that theme.
"I envision different businesses sponsoring scarecrows throughout town," McGraw said. " We could hold a workshop up front to show how to make them from twigs and natural fibers, and different businesses in town could each sponsor their own scarecrows. We could provide a map showing the various locations they would appear, all the way from the farmers market at Pine Mountain Village to the main entrance to town atop Planer Hill through the Historic Loop, at the various springs, etc."
The month-long festival would possibly include a jack-o-lantern carving contest in conjunction with the farmers market, with a special night market in Basin Park, as well has having a few local sculptors do more elaborate scarecrows to mark the city's major points, for example at the entrance on Planer Hill.
At the end, all the scarecrows would be burned in a celebratory bonfire.
McGraw also asked permission to do another Creative Energy project in Basin Park in May. The commission gave thumbs up to both projects contingent on lack of scheduling conflicts with other events and the approval of the CAPC and whoever else would need to approve the plans.
Re-dedicating the Claude Fuller Trail
Planning Commissioner Denys Flaherty approached Parks to request its approval for a plan to re-dedicate a two-mile stretch of trail at Lake Leatherwood Park originally dedicated in 1998 to the late Eureka mayor and U.S. Congressman Claude A. Fuller. Among his many accomplishments, Fuller had five miles of Eureka Springs streets paved in concrete. From 1928-1938 he served in the House of Representatives and was influential in routing US Highway 62 through the rocky Ozark Mountains near Eureka Springs. It was Fuller, through connections made earlier during his time in the Arkansas legislature, who arranged for the prison camp and labor in the early 1920s and helped develop Lake Leatherwood Park, hence the dedication.
"I went to [Fuller's grandson] John Cross, and he was very grateful for his grandfather to be remembered," Flaherty said. "The Cross family has been a big part of the development of Eureka Springs for generations. Fuller paved Arkansas. We would not have Lake Leatherwood without him. I think that says it all."
The commission agreed as long as Flaherty was willing to arrange sponsorship for the project, a dedicatory plaque could be placed at the trailhead at Leatherwood, with the possibility of a more elaborate marker being placed a the entrance kiosk once it is built.
Eagle Scout to dig in at Cardinal Spring
Boy Scouts of America's Nathan Wilkerson next appeared before Parks to get the go-ahead for a trails project he needs to accomplish his Eagle Scout qualifications. Eagle Scout is the highest rank available in the Boy Scouts of America and must be accomplished by the time the scout is 18.
Wilkerson's project would consist of building a 350 ft. trail on the south side of Harmon Park leading down to Cardinal Spring, with a pair of benches at the trailhead and a marker indicating the delicate nature of the ecosystem at the spring.
The trail project would precede but dovetail with efforts by local naturalist Christopher Fisher in his efforts toward getting an Arkansas Forestry grant for restoring the spring, which is home to the rare stream-dwelling Orconectes williamsi or Williams' Crayfish.
Parks & Rec Commission Chairman Bill Featherstone suggested Wilkerson contact Trails Committee Chairman David Renko, who, as Featherstone put it, "has built a lot of trails in Eureka Springs and the area and probably knows more about the nuts and bolts of trail building than anybody I'm aware of."
Commissioner Rachel Brix agreed and asked that Wilkerson be invited to the next Trails Committee meeting to continue discussion of the project.
The commission ultimately agreed to allow Wilkerson to go forward with his project under the conditions he confer with Renko, Fischer and Parks & Rec Director Bruce Levine. The deadline for the trail to be completed is May 1.
"Past experience has proven scouts do quality work in the parks," Featherstone told Wilkerson, "so I'm sure this will be of equally quality."
Dog park advisory committee forms, gathers resources
Finally, Brix brought the commission up to date on the ongoing development of the new dog park, to be located in Harmon Park. Brix told commissioners the newly formed Eureka Springs Dog Park Advisory committee had had its first fundraiser at the Cornerstone Bank parking lot, which is regularly donated to local causes on weekends to raise money, raising $400. She said the group is putting together a packet to bring potential donors to the project and that she was still waiting for a response to a grant application for $15,000 from a major corporation.
"Cross your paws, hope and wait," she said.