New twist in attempt to move city meetings


Eureka Springs City Council learned at its Oct. 23 meeting that one possible site for future meetings, 25 Norris St., a property owned by the city and site of the medical office of Dr. Charles Beard since at least 1987, has another glitch.

Mayor Butch Berry had understood from conversations earlier in the year that Beard intended to relocate to a town in southern Arkansas by the end of the year, but a letter from Beard’s attorney, R. Dawn Allen, presented at the Oct. 9 meeting informed Berry and council otherwise. The letter stated Beard very much wanted to continue his practice in the same location.

A complication, according to Berry, was no one had found the original lease for the property. Also, because of agreements made long ago for which Berry could not find records, Beard made repairs and improvements to the property in lieu of further lease payments. Berry said he did not know when Beard had last made monthly lease payments.

At the Oct. 9 meeting, Berry presented a proposed new lease, which asked for $2000 per month payments for renting the property. A reply from Allen presented at the Oct. 23 meeting stated, “Dr. Beard feels that the proposed amount of the lease is in excess of fair market value. Based on the usable square footage of the facility it is believed that a more reasonable monthly lease would be $1000.”

Allen’s letter also mentioned, “Dr. Beard is very interested in continuing the lease with the Hospital Commission just as he has done.” Aldrman Mickey Schneider stated her understanding was no one could find a lease, so how could the attorney reference a document no one had.

Present at the meeting was Beverly Beard, Dr. Beard’s wife. When asked about a lease, she said they indeed had a copy of the original lease, which Allen could provide, then declined further comment.

Schneider immediately stated council should defer the discussion until aldermen could see a copy of the old lease. “We need to see what has been going on,” she said.

Alderman Kristi Kendrick countered that what the lease contained was irrelevant because the letter from Allen stated the lease was with the Hospital Commission which had no legal standing to enter into a lease with Beard. She said what mattered was current market value of the property.

Alderman David Mitchell said this appeared to be an attorney versus attorney conversation. City Attorney Tim Weaver agreed it would be in council’s interest to see the document before proceeding.

Alderman Peg Adamson asserted Beard had been misrepresented in their previous discussions, and aldermen voted unanimously to table the topic pending review of the document Beard had.

More on the move

Berry stated at previous meetings he had been approached by a member of the Community Center Foundation board about a new offer for relocating city government meetings to the Community Center. The property is owned by the Eureka Springs School District, and mention had been made of the district giving the property to the city.

Berry said he had a follow-up conversation with Supt. Bryan Pruitt who had the understanding the district could not legally give the property to the city, so Berry requested an opinion from the office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Berry said he and Rutledge were at the same meeting recently, and she told him to send her an email and she would follow up.

Alderman Terry McClung told Berry the city should press the issue because council needs to know before it can move forward on the move. He also insisted it would be pointless to discuss the offer further, even with a positive response from Rutledge, unless the school board expressed an interest in giving the property to the city.

Comments pro and con began to arise, but alderman David Mitchell pointed out this was not even on the agenda, so Berry stopped the conversation and said he would get more information.

Other business

  • Aldermen voted to seat Leva Murphy to the Hospital Commission.
  • Aldermen passed all three readings of Ordinances 2260 and 2261 regarding changes to City Code necessitated by updates in how the state mandated the District Court Judge be paid. All votes for both ordinances were 5-1, Adamson voting No.
  • City Clerk/Treasurer Ann Armstrong presented a thick stack of paperwork representing the 3rd quarter financials. She said the documents would be available in her office for their perusal.
  • Berry announced the video of council meetings would be broadcast on Channel 21 the following day at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. and also on Saturday at noon and 6 p.m.

Next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m., in the Auditorium lobby.