Parks commission approves 2018 budget

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Eureka Springs Parks Commission is

ready to take on 2018.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the commission approved

its budget for 2018. The only change

to the budget, Parks director Justin Huss

said, was that carryover cash was reduced by

$13,000. Huss said the budget compares to

that of a state park system.

“The budget to run this entire parks system

was $40,000 more than my budget was

to run a state park with seven campsites, a

pavilion and a playground, and we don’t

have a big giant pot like state parks, where

if we need a new vehicle, that came out of

the pot,” Huss said. “All things considered, I

think it’s pretty darn impressive.”

Steven Foster moved to approve the

budget, and the commission unanimously

agreed.

Also at the meeting, the commission

heard from University of Arkansas graduate

student Casey Brewster about a conservation

project he’s working on. Brewster said

his biggest interested in research is understanding

the mechanisms by which species

respond to environmental change. The species

he’s studying, Brewster said, is the eastern

collared lizard. That species is present at

Lake Leatherwood City Park, Brewster said.

“It’s a species that is declining in the

Ozarks, and we have some ideas why,”

Brewster said.

He’ll put those ideas to the test at Lake

Leatherwood, Brewster said, if he receives a

state wildlife grant to do so.

“A major portion of this project is habitat

restoration and other conservation work

we’re proposing at Lake Leatherwood,”

Brewster said. “Lake Leatherwood is a key

part of this project proposal.”

Brewster said he’d get in contact with

Huss after hearing about the grant.

In other business, the commission heard

from citizens about the new mountain biking

trails at Lake Leatherwood City Park. Jacqueline

Wolven recalled hearing Joe David Rice,

former director of Arkansas Parks and Tourism,

say Eureka Springs needs a new ride.

“Every time he said it, I would cringe a

little,” Wolven said. “I believe we have the

greatest real experience you can get, and that’s

downtown Eureka Springs. I don’t think we

need a water park or a roller coaster at all.”

Her second favorite experience in Eureka

Springs, Wolven said, is Lake Leatherwood.

She said she has to walk her dog for one to

three miles each day.

“Because of that, we’re in Lake Leatherwood

a lot … 151 days last year,” Wolven

said. “We hike the trails and enjoy the proximity

to town. It’s easy and it’s beautiful.”

She said she’s happy to hear mountain

bikers holler when they’re riding through the

trails, saying she’s excited for the developments

on the Miner’s Rock Trail.

“I wish Joe David Rice hadn’t retired before

our new downhill trails were built, because

I would have loved to walk with him

and share his excitement for what we’re doing

in Eureka Springs and Northwest Arkansas,”

Wolven said. “I have faith in Eureka

Springs Parks Commission. They’re good

people who care deeply about the community,

the parks and our future.”

Damon Henke said he’s been receiving

many calls from mountain bikers about cabin

rentals since the work began at Lake Leatherwood.

He’d like the commission to keep

working on the full trails system, Henke said.

“I look forward to being able to use more

in-town trails, possibly something that connects

any parking on 62 to downtown Eureka,”

Henke said.

Jody English Brown said she’s worked in

hospitality all her life and has seen how effective

trails are at bringing visitors to town.

“I’m here tonight to speak in support of

our parks commission and their efforts to

develop our trails system,” she said. “Our

trails system and our natural setting create

an offering that sets us apart from other destinations

… just one more reason to come to

Eureka Springs.”

Diane Murphy said Eureka Springs was

focused on outdoor tourism when she moved

to town in 1984.

“We’ve worked in so many different ways

to enhance that, but I don’t think anything

enhances it more than trails,” Murphy said.

“From a business perspective, that’s also

what people are looking for when they move

here to stay. We have to stay relevant, not

only in tourism but in lifestyle amenities.”

The commission’s next regular meeting

is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at

The Auditorium.

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