Parks panel considers Magnetic Spring repairs

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is working toward repairing Magnetic Spring.

At the commission’s June 1 workshop, interim director Scott Miskiel described the scope of repairs at the spring. Miskiel said the stonework is “in pretty bad shape,” with the stone crumbling around the basins and causing water to flow over the surface. That has led to algae issues, Miskiel said, and flooding in the gardens below the structure.

Miskiel said he received a proposal from Stacy’s Stonework, run by Stacy Mahurin, to repair the spring.

“It is … exclusively estimated prices at this time,” Miskiel said. “I felt it would be best to have a workshop for us to discuss and have [Mahurin] explain what he has proposed and see if we can try to move this along as quickly as possible.”

Mahurin said the spring has a drainage issue, which is why water has been overflowing for quite some time. There are multiple problems with the stonework, Mahurin said, and it’s not safe for people to walk up to the basin because it is slippery.

“There’s a bluff and they’ve built on this bluff and a lot of times those bluffs will rot where we’ve held back the earth on them,” Mahurin said.

Mahurin said he doesn’t know exactly where the bluff comes down, and that will inform how the repair goes. Mahurin proposed working below the bluff to place “two 12-inch cauldrons with a grate over that.”

“You’d get a longer … period before it would ever overflow on the face of that circular lower portion,” Mahurin said.

Mahurin said the stairway would need to be re-engineered to create erosion control. There’s a spot on the asphalt below that has started to crack, Mahurin said, and he’d propose removing that to create a “big enough” trench.

“The city said they’d come in and connect that for no cost,” Mahurin said.

Chairman Kevin Ruehle asked if Mahurin would be doing all the work himself and Mahurin said he’d need sub-contractors for parts of the project such as excavation and plumbing. He already has companies in mind for that work, Mahurin said.

“If it exceeds $20,000, we have to put it out to bid,” Ruehle said. “The biggest issue is defining the unknowns.”

Ruehle said parks volunteer Christopher Fischer has expressed concern with working below the stairs, saying the root systems for a nearby tree could be located there.

“If we pull that stair up … it could well kill the tree,” Ruehle said.

There’s more than one way to resolve the issue, Mahurin said.

“Say we started earlier on our approach and had the stairs tucked out,” Mahurin said. “Then you gain height before you reach … the roots.”

“What you’re saying is essentially take the whole stair and move it out … so you gain all the space underneath it,” Ruehle said.

“And then we’re gaining height on the platform,” Mahurin said. “My idea makes sense in some ways but achieving that comes with different prices.”

Ruehle said it’s the commission’s “fiduciary responsibility” to define the costs before the project begins and Mahurin said he’d contact the sub-contractors to get a bid from them.

“The biggest thing is defining where the variable is in the scope,” Ruehle said. “If we run into the roots, the stair needs to move out so we have more room.”

Ruehle suggested getting Fischer involved with the project and commissioner Sue Hubbard said she supports the repair.

“Maybe it’s worth spending a little extra now to make sure we don’t have problems in the future,” Hubbard said.

Mahurin said the existing stonework is not historic.

“What we’re doing is building dams and that’s an engineering feat,” Mahurin said. “Without steel and concrete … to build these flash flood dams is very hard. Now with technology and with a true plan … I think we can achieve something.”

Ruehle asked Mahurin to meet with Miskiel to redefine the scope of the project with input from the sub-contractors.

“Then we can start working with them to get bids on the scope as it’s defined and then we can bring the whole thing to the finance committee to look at it from … what we had originally budgeted and what adjustments we may need,” Ruehle said. “Then it can come to a meeting for approval.”

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, at The Auditorium.

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