Parks commission approves greenhouse partnership

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation continues to grow its partnership with the Eureka Springs Community Center.

At the commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday, March 2, interim director Scott Miskiel updated the commission on its partnership with the community center’s greenhouse program. Miskiel said the commission has a lease agreement with the community center to operate the greenhouse, saying the community center is “really looking for somebody that can do some things year-round.”

“Really, we only need [the greenhouse] this time of the year,” Miskiel said. “We start mid-February and we usually start putting plants out in May.”

Miskiel said the lease agreement ends on March 31 and asked the commission to extend the agreement through May.

“Otherwise, there’s no sense planting plants we can’t get out,” Miskiel said.

Miskiel said he spoke with community center activities director Cat Luna, who agreed on the terms of the partnership moving forward.

Instead of paying rent, Miskiel said, the commission would provide seeds and potting mix for 500 to 1,000 annual plants and the community center would provide the greenhouse, water and electricity.

The community center would receive a third of the plants, Miskiel said, and the commission would receive the remaining plants.

“We’re talking some potting soil, maybe $100, and they’ll get a third of it,” Miskiel said. “The fact that they’re paying for the water and the utilities … I think that’s definitely a good deal for us, and we should move forward with this.”

Miskiel said he brought the issue to the commission for the sake of transparency.

“I felt it prudent to seek your approval,” Miskiel said.

Commissioner Ruth Hager moved to approve the partnership and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

Miskiel added that he hopes to work with the community center on a monarch project later this year.

The commission then heard from chairman Kevin Ruehle about opening up a new checking account at CS Bank. The checking account would be associated with a money market account containing funds from the 0.125 percent tax, which can only be used for expenditures at Lake Leatherwood City Park.

“We are going to segregate the restricted funds in one money market account and this checking account will be associated with those restricted funds, which will make it far easier to track … restricted and general operating funds going forward,” Ruehle said.

Ruehle said CS Bank needs the commission to approve a letter to establish the checking account and commissioner Scott Bardin said he supported the idea.

“The importance of having a separate account for the 0.125 percent sales tax is a huge step in the right direction,” Bardin said. “It’s going to be a great tool to use for planning and showing the public transparency in our funding.”

Hager moved to approve the letter and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

Also at the meeting, Miskiel said the winter storm in February was a setback for the commission. Miskiel said the staff is still catching up after being stuck indoors for a week.

“On the bright side, we are pretty much fully staffed at this point,” Miskiel said.

Miskiel said grounds and natural resources manager Dave Renko has hit the ground running. Miskiel said he also hired a trails and maintenance technician who will provide “most of the boots on the ground for trails maintenance.” The commission typically hires a grounds person this time of the year, Miskiel said, but he hired someone who has experience working on maintenance and grounds.

“We’re just getting more and more maintenance issues,” Miskiel said. “We’ve got somebody we know we can move around to different areas.”

Miskiel said he hired another shuttle driver so the commission can implement its shuttle plan starting March 15.

“We needed at least one shuttle driver in addition to the one we had,” Miskiel said. “I’m excited to get the staffing.”

Miskiel said he sent out applications for bike shuttle vendors and heard back from one of the vendors.

“They’re in the process of filling out that application,” Miskiel said. “We look forward to getting that rolling. We’re also this close to getting the software in place for online booking.”

During the chairman’s comments, Ruehle said he feels like the commission has accomplished quite a bit in a short period of time.

“I feel pretty good about the direction we’re headed,” Ruehle said.

Ruehle said the Walton Family Foundation is open to a partnership with the commission to get more signage on the trails at Lake Leatherwood. One of the biggest complaints the commission receives, Ruehle said, is that there isn’t adequate signage at the park.

“The foundation has expressed the willingness to fund that, either in part or in total,” Ruehle said.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, at The Aud.

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