Parks commission approves 2018 budget
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
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,”
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,”
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
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