Parks & Rec discusses new projects, multi-use performer permits in meeting

Friday, December 21, 2012

Among the singers, acrobats, fire-eaters, scout troops and artisans sharing spots in Basin Park next season will be members of the healing community.

At this week's meeting of the Parks & Rec Commission, licensed massage therapist Alexa Pittenger came before the commission as a representative of an alliance of health care practitioners who wish to use a space in the park to promote a wide range of health care issues.

"One of our big goals is to make downtown life interesting and a pleasant experience for visitors and residents alike," she said. "So what we're wishing to do is have a permit so we can on a rotating basis come to the park and show what we do. There are a broad spectrum of practitioners in this particular group at this time -- acupuncture, fitness people, pilate instructors, zumba class demonstrations, tai chi, all family friendly activities. And some would be strictly for information."

The rotating permit idea has a precedent in the park, as Parks & Rec Director Bruce Levine explained. "Two years ago we had ESSA put together a package of folks who wanted to display under one license," he said. "Last time we charged a $50 license and took names the of people working under that license in that space. We've kept ourselves in good shape in the park. There are seven spots for regular artists and a couple for fee performers, and still some open space for nonprofits."

Although the discussion ranged over issues such as where the money charged for services in the park was going and possible sound problems, Levine explained that Parks tried not to over-regulate the situation unless the need arose.

"What I think we've seen in the past two years is that a lot of artists come and go. No one's required to be there once a day or every day. You can even get a license and never show up. We don't want to try to administrate that."

He added a lottery might be required if demand for spaces grew too great, but that the guiding principle was to be 100 percent fair to all involved and show no bias toward one person over another.

In the end, the commission voted to allow the permit for $50, adding that each additional person wishing to use that space as part of the group would have to go to Levine and pay an additional $10 fee and be provided documentation to show they are entitled to use the space.

Sales tax dividends kick in next June

Levine said the one eighth of a percent sales tax passed for the Lake Leatherwood project in the November election will be collected starting in April, with the first funds to be made available to Parks in June. "According to my last communication with Arkansas Game & Fish, we're on the list for next year's paving of the road at Leatherwood," he said. "It's a 50/50 matching grant situation, so if Public Works can help us some, work on some soft spots, do some prep work, we may be able to reduce our share cash-wise even more. It's a grant paid from the marine fuel tax only eligible for roads that lead to lakes that allow motorized boats, which we do. Anyway, we're ready to get started."

The next Parks & Rec meeting will be a workshop held at the Harmon Park office on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m.

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