Parks director says department is doing better than ever

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission accomplished

a lot in 2017, and parks director Justin Huss said he

intends to keep that momentum in 2018.

Huss delivered the state of parks on Tuesday, Jan. 30, describing

everything the commission got done last year. There

was progress at Harmon Park, Huss said, with more of the

stonework revealed throughout the park and the tree limbs

trimmed to make the park more inviting. Some honeysuckle

bushes were removed from the park, Huss said, and that should

keep happening this year.

“We’re also working to reclaim and expand on Cardinal

Spring Trail with the main quarter being cleaned last year. We

hope to tie that into our spring garden trail,” Huss said,

Other upcoming improvements at Harmon Park, he said, include

new lighting, better wifi, more security and a new water

feature. The water feature is made possible through Montana

Widener’s memorial fund, Huss said.

“We felt that was the appropriate thing to do,” Huss said.

The commission is applying for support from May Festival

of the Arts to work on the bathroom facade and install a mural

at Harmon Park, Huss said.

“We want to encourage local artists to do some outdoor installations

and just overall give Harmon some polish and some

identity,” he said. “We’re anxious to hear about that. We’ve already

done some preliminary assessments of the building and

its mural potential.”

Basin Spring Park had a busy year in 2017, Huss said, with

the bandshell being cleaned and illuminated. He said the stone

basin at the bottom of the well was cleaned, too.

“That’s one of the things I didn’t know was down there for

the first year I was here,” Huss said. “To actually get down there

and get hands-on … that’s one of the little moments being in

parks that was really neat. You can see where it’s been collecting

for years.”

The Doughboy Statue was repaired thanks to grants from

the Historic District Commission, Huss said, and a smoking

ordinance was passed for Basin Park and other park properties

in town. He said the commission will be working this year to

repair the bandshell steps, restore the base of the Doughboy

Statue and scrape, patch and paint the bandshell. Getting the

bandshell cleaned up, Huss said, is a sign of collaboration between

city commissions.

“Andy Green has done a wonderful job bringing acts down

to Basin Park,” Huss said. “I look forward to another season

with Andy. I think he’s stepping it up even further. We just want

to give a shout out to our partners, because we work with theCAPC to manage that.”

The garden parks have continued to shine under the

care of city gardener Tom Beckendorf, Huss said. He said

Beckendorf installed new walkways, improved irrigation

systems, repaired walls and removed invasive species at

the parks.

“Our springs are a primary asset to our town, and their

caretaker is as well,” Huss said.

Everyone at parks has done an excellent job for the city,

Huss said, and that team will grow in 2018 with some new

positions being added to the department.

“Our entire staff has excelled this year and is the foundation

for our continued success,” Huss said. “We’ve implemented

many new policies. Our staff has proven to be

up for the challenges.”

The Carroll County Riders served the community well in

2017, Huss said, helping with the trails at Black Bass Lake

and receiving recognition for 20 years of work at the Ozark

Off Road Cyclists’ celebration.

“Recent projects are a direct result of their work over

two decades,” Huss said.

That work includes the new downhill mountain biking

trails at Lake Leatherwood City Park, Huss said. He

thanked the citizens for voting to renew Leatherwood’s

0.125 percent tax.

“The approval of the Leatherwood tax provided us with

new revenue sources that allow the park to function better

and in the black,” Huss said. “This tax, without a doubt, is

the greatest accomplishment of the past year and for the

future of parks, hands down.”

He described everything that happened at Lake Leatherwood

in 2017, saying a new playground was installed, the

cabins received exterior repairs and the fleet of rental boats

expanded once again.

“All combined, these Leatherwood improvements have

resulted in increased park usage, increased revenue and

new partnerships,” Huss said. “Our 2017 revenue is up 75

percent from 2015, and this is without most of our new

facilities coming online until May of last year.”

In 2018, he said, Lake Leatherwood will see upgrades

to its campsites, glade restoration, the removal of invasive

species and renovations on the bathhouse. This is all because

of the 0.125 percent tax, Huss said.

“It allows for long-term planning and a realistic method

to approach large issues such as repairs to our sewer system,

lake and dam,” Huss said. “With increases in revenue,

our parks system is making great strides toward a more

efficient and meaningful management of our resources.”

He continued, “We will be able to hire professional staff

to manage our resources and continue to build our ability

and effectiveness. Our parks system is on a steady march

toward a higher and more professional system that will

provide continued additional benefits for our citizens and

guests.”

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