At the March 5 Parks Commission meeting, Director Justin Huss reported the cold winter took its toll on pumps and pipes. The pump house at the Lake Leatherwood City Park’s (LLCP) ball fields froze and became stuck open, causing much distress, but Huss said he and staff took the opportunity to upgrade the equipment and re-acquaint themselves with overall operation of the system.
In preparation for Spring Break, Huss hired two new staff and got everybody cross-trained. Maintenance staff Vince Peschka worked on securing certification for water testing, and gardener Tom Beckendorf has participated in the local Master Naturalist class. Huss is evaluating options for continuing staff training.
A mural project at Harmon Park, in collaboration with the Arts Council and the Eureka Springs School for the Arts, is exploring creation of an Art Walk within Harmon Park featuring the work of local artists. Huss said he wanted “to embrace the local artistic community. We have an underused stage and an amalgam of features. With the skate park there and the accompanying graffiti art, this seems a logical progression.” He and his crew will extend trails to connect with the Cardinal Spring Trail, and he expects these additions will increase use of the park.
Regarding LLCP, Huss commented, “Weather has not been cooperative this season, yet we still find ourselves well over budgeted projections.” He said Parks is seeing the financial benefits of LLCP being open year-round, and the busy season has yet to begin.
Work continues on the new downhill bike trail project. Weather slowed progress somewhat, but the expectation is the NWA Trailblazers will complete five downhill lines and the Miner’s Rock re-route by May. In autumn, they will complete a sixth line, plus two hubs.
Huss praised the quality of the work done so far. He was on site during heavy rains, and saw trails shedding water and spreading it according to intended design. He said operators are not disturbing any rocks or features unless necessary, and the stacked rock walls show impressive attention to detail.
“I was able to walk the existing Miner’s Rock Trail and the new connector along with the new section of multi-use trail,” Huss said, “and I believe it to be an excellent compromise of preserving existing trail and integrating safely into new features. We are gaining more sustainable trails and avoiding potential hazards.”
Huss’s financial projections are being exceeded, and he mentioned that local merchants have told him customers are excited about the new trails. He said a recent newspaper poll of readers showed 93 percent of respondents voted in favor of the downhill trails project with only 16 responses being either opposed or undecided.
Huss also mentioned that Parks’ is strategizing what’s next for the in-town trail system.
Chair urges going to the source
Chair Bill Featherstone commented it appeared to him that people are more willing to believe in rumors than pursue the facts from the source. He said folks who want to know about what Parks is doing can ask him or other commissioners rather than rely on remarks made by someone who possibly has indirect or incomplete or totally erroneous information.
He said he has had to confront “wild hearsay” from the public, and insisted, “Communication begets understanding, and understanding begets progress. Our city needs more communication.”