Council joins local officials' opposition to SWEPCO plan
Added to the growing voices of citizen opposition to the proposed SWEPCO transmission line through Carroll County are recent statements of official opposition by various local governments and organizations.
Tuesday the Eureka Springs City Council held a short special meeting and voted unanimously to approve Resolution No. 618, opposing the transmission line.
The resolution states that tourism tax revenue generates around $130 million per year and the council opposes any of the proposed transmission lines that threaten the city and its environs that attract tourism dollars.
Specifically, the resolutions names several locations: Highway 62, Thorncrown Chapel, Spring Street, Lake Leatherwood City Park, the Beaver Bridge, Beaver Lake, Inspiration Point, the Great Passion Play and Pea Ridge Battlefield.
"... The City Council of Eureka Springs has determined that placement of 345,000 Volt transmission lines in view of the above mentioned significant tourism assets will negatively impact the tourism income of the City and its businesses and those in the surrounding area," the resolution states.
Alderman James DeVito said a question had been raised that opposing all six of SWEPCO's proposed transmission routes "would not leave SWEPCO an out," but that one route, the southern route, has none of these locations on them and could be used.
The Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce has also come out against the project. On April 23, Chamber representatives board chairman Debbie Hartsell, President/CEO Mike Bishop and Publications Director Debbie Coleman met with SWEPCO's External Affairs Manager Jeff Milford and Principal Communications Consultant Peter Main.
Two days later, the Chamber board approved a position statement that supports its mission statement of fostering business and cultural growth and promoting tourism and economic vitality.
The board approved this statement: "The Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce stands in opposition to anything that would have a negative impact on the economy of Eureka Springs and the quality of life and will continue to inform and educate our members."
Bishop promised to use the Chamber's resources to keep members informed and encouraged business owners, individuals and property owners to "get educated and involved immediately. Make your voice heard and your concerns known."
At its April 8 meeting, the Beaver town council approved a motion to "strongly oppose" the transmission line project. Mayor Mary Hill said she sent a letter to SWEPCO informing them of it.
At the next Quorum Court meeting in Berryville, Justice of the Peace Lamont Ritchie will sponsor a resolution asking the court to oppose the transmission line.
The meeting will take place Friday, May 17, at 10 a.m. at the county courthouse in Berryville. Public comments will be taken early in the meeting, and speakers are restricted to three minutes each.