Eureka Springs mayor apologizes for remark about Green Forest
By Scott Loftis
and Samantha Jones
Eureka Springs mayor Butch Berry apologized to Green Forest mayor Jerry Carlton last week for comments Berry made in a local newspaper.
In a report published Oct. 14 by the Eureka Springs Independent regarding a ballot proposal to abolish Eureka Springs’ Historic District Commission, Berry was quoted as saying: “If this passes what we know and what brings visitors to town could turn into Green Forest.”
Carlton contacted a reporter on Wednesday, Oct. 21, saying he had heard from several Green Forest residents about the report.
Carlton said he was “disappointed” by Berry’s comment.
“I would think he would have already realized his error and made an apology,” Carlton said. “Am I upset? No. Am I disappointed? Yes. It’s not me that deserves an apology. It’s the people of Green Forest.”
Berry said Thursday, Oct. 22, that he meant no offense.
“I didn’t mean to put down Green Forest by any means,” Berry said. “Green Forest is certainly a growing city over there. What I was referring to was the historical context. I was referring to the architecture of Green Forest, not the people of Green Forest. I realized as soon as I said that it could be taken out of context and they could take it as a personal affront.”
After speaking with a reporter, Berry sent an email to Carlton.
“I am truly sorry that you feel that I offended the city of Green Forest and it’s (sic) citizens,” Berry wrote. “That was not my intent. But for years, in architectural preservation circles, architects would say that some aluminum siding salesman came through Green Forest and sold them a bunch of aluminum siding to cover up those old buildings.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the historic architecture of Green Forest has been lost or destroyed over the years. This is not a slam on Green Forest, just an unfortunate fact that has occurred in many downtowns. Urban renewal was one of the biggest enemies of historic architecture and has destroyed as much of the historic fabric of our communities as General Sherman did on his march thru (sic) the south in the Civil War.
“In many ways, I’m envious of Green Forest for your growing community and industry. But as a preservation architect I am very proud of the historic fabric that Eureka Springs saved. We didn’t save the architecture of Eureka Springs intentionally because of some high moral architectural standard, we were just too poor to fix it up or tear it down. We couldn’t afford the aluminum siding.
“Maybe one day, you will be able to uncover some of that aluminum siding and find some of Green Forest architectural history like Eureka did when we unboarded the store fronts.
“Knowing the Lovely County (Citizen) and their attitude of writing negative articles about Eureka Springs, I’m sure there will be another article in the paper, but please know that I respect you and the citizens of Green Forest.”
The Citizen is published by Carroll County Newspapers, which also publishes the Carroll County News and several specialty publications. The Eureka Springs Independent, which published Berry’s original comments, has no affiliation with Carroll County Newspapers.
Carlton said he received Berry’s email.
“Regardless of what the problem was, the air needed to be cleared to the public,” Carlton said.