Council OKs ordinance regarding lands jurisdiction on second reading

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Eureka Springs City Council on Monday revisited a proposed ordinance that would return all unopened streets and alleys to the city’s jurisdiction.

The proposed ordinance, which gives the parks commissions jurisdiction over all existing and proposed trails, was approved on a first reading Feb. 28. Alderman David Mitchell moved Monday to suspend the rules and read the ordinance for a second time by title only. Alderman Bob Thomas said there are parts of the proposed ordinance he doesn’t support.

“I really want that extra buffer of having the parks department protecting our green spaces, and I don’t want to eliminate that. I am green space-oriented,” Thomas said. “I would like them to have the first shot at protecting our lands.”

Alderwoman Kristi Kendrick said the city owns the land whether it’s under the jurisdiction of parks or not.

“The city has other ways of protecting its green spaces through protecting its trees and the regulations we have against cutting them,” Kendrick said.

Alderwoman Mickey Schneider said she disagrees with a part of the ordinance saying the city council can remove a trail without notifying the parks commission first.

“We purposely put these things under the charge of parks for a very good reason, so we didn’t have to mess with it,” Schneider said. “I still have a major problem with [the section] saying we can take away any part of any trail we want at any damn time without giving any notice, so people who have come here to use our trails for walking, hiking, biking, what have you … can end up in the middle of having to turn around and go back, because the city deemed it necessary to remove [the trail]. This is not right.”

The council voted, with Thomas, Kendrick, Terry McClung, David Mitchell and Peg Adamson agreeing to read the ordinance for a second time by title only and Schneider voting against it. When it came time to vote on approving the ordinance on a second reading, Kendrick said the council likely won’t remove a trail without informing parks.

“It simply allows us to do that. It doesn’t mean our procedures will be set up to just completely avoid parks. I anticipate whatever procedures we put into effect regarding vacations … we’re going to involve all commissions and properties that have anything to do with the property,” Kendrick said.

“Good intentions are fine, well and good,” Schneider said, “but whether it be this group or a group of councilmen 10 years down the road … if you open the door, at some point, someone will go through.”

Kendrick, McClung, Mitchell and Adamson voted to approve the ordinance on a second reading, with Schneider and Thomas voting against it.

In other business, the council approved two resolutions, one allowing the city to seek refinancing of an existing police department building loan and another renewing the Eureka Springs Art Wall.

The council also set a date for its workshop on the proposed ordinance regarding smoking in city parks, agreeing to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 27, at City Hall.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: