Shuttle vans: Parks commission agrees to pay up to $34,999 per vehicle

Thursday, July 25, 2019

By Samantha Jones

Lake Leatherwood City Park should have a self-sufficient shuttle system for the downhill mountain biking trails by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, July 16, the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission addressed the need for two shuttle vehicles at Lake Leatherwood. Parks director Justin Huss said the commission has been working with Shuttlebug and used that vehicle as an example of the type of vehicle needed at the park.

Financing one shuttle vehicle should cost up to $34,999, Huss said. He presented bids from three local banks to finance the vehicle, saying it would cost between $550 and $630 a month for one shuttle.

"What we need to decide as a commission is to go forward with one or both of the shuttles, knowing we have these interest rates and dollar amount," Huss said. "We will have to go to council for a resolution allowing that purchase since we're financing it. It would be an encumberment on the city if there is a default."

Then the commission would need to waive competitive bids, Huss said.

"That's because we have a specific piece of equipment," he said.

Chairman Bill Featherstone asked if $34,999 is comparable to how much Shuttlebug costs, and Huss said it is. Huss said he hopes to find a vehicle with a little less mileage and "maybe a bigger motor."

"It's really hard to nail down specifics when you're dealing with various motor sizes and mileage," Huss said.

Commissioner Ruth Hager moved to approve a purchase up to $34,999 apiece for two shuttles subject to the approval of specific vehicles at a later date. The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion, and Huss said the commission will probably need to have a special meeting to vote on specific vehicles in the near future.

"I want to ask you again," Hager said. "Where in the budget does this come from?"

"It comes from shuttle operations," Huss said. "It will support itself. It's also a resource. It's not just an asset."

Also at the meeting, the council considered a request from Cheryl Rutledge to place a sculpture honoring Native Americans at a high-traffic park in town. Commissioner Steven Foster said they spoke about the sculpture at a Springs Committee meeting, saying Huss didn't want to put the sculpture in Basin Park and suggested Harmon Park instead. Rutledge didn't want the sculpture at Harmon Park, Foster said.

"She suggested some of the smaller springs parks," Foster said, "and when we did our tour on Friday of the springs parks, we scratched our heads trying to figure out where it might fit in. It's such a large object compared to those small parks."

Featherstone asked parks employee Dove Bolerjack about the status of the sculpture, and Bolerjack said mayor's assistant Kim Stryker has found a spot on Planer Hill by the transit station.

"It would be more in the transit lot where they have the flag poles," Huss said. "They have some art installations in that area already."

Foster said that would be a great spot for the sculpture.

"That's kind of a big open grassy knob that is bigger than any space we have in any of our parks," Foster said.

Commissioner Draxie Roberts said she spoke with the secretary to the head of the Osage Nation and the head of the Cherokee Nation, saying both were thrilled about the sculpture.

"This was a very important place to them," Roberts said. "They felt the healing water gave them the stamina to get to Oklahoma. These people are all for this."

The commission agreed to speak with Stryker to get the sculpture on Planer Hill, and Featherstone said they'd be happy to keep working on it if that falls through.

"We're perfectly willing to take it back up if it gets kicked back to us," Featherstone said.

"I like the idea of putting it there," Hager said, "but if that doesn't work out, certainly we should find some place elsewhere."

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at The Auditorium.

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