Need for ES community center to be studied

Monday, April 25, 2005

EUREKA SPRINGS ---- A public forum to determine the need for a community center, and what it will be, is going to be the first step the Parks and Recreation Commission takes toward filling a request from the city council to put together a committee to study the matter.

A date hasn't been set.

Members of the commission are hesitant to start trying to determine the need and to form a development committee on their own.

Meeting in regular session Monday evening, commission members discussed the city council's request for the formation of a study committee, but agreed the "traditional" type of community center may not be the best thing.

"We already have Main Stage, EurekaKids, the auditorium, the Lake Leatherwood Park and Ball Fields, the EAST Lab computer center," said Haley Tomlinson.

"We need something for seniors, but I don't know how we would fund a center."

"With what we already have in hand, we (the commission) already have our hands full," said David Renko. "We haven't fully developed all the ideas for Lake Leatherwood and the opportunities out there.

"We have a lot of non-traditional needs in our community."

Parks Executive Director Bruce Levine said he has contacted a professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville about doing a needs assessment study.

The professor and graduate students will be available in the spring of 2006, but not right away.

"Whatever is decided, the program or facility will have to be self-sustaining," said Chairman Bill Featherstone.

"We certainly cannot fund a huge project from the parks' tax, but the city could come up with a way, if the people really want one."

A building in Harmon Park is currently called the community center and it is available to small groups for use.

The lower level is leased to the EurekaKids after school program.

The council has set aside $20,000 for repairs to the building this summer.

At the top of the repair list is a new roof, renovation of the outside stairway, renovation of the kitchen area on the main floor, and some remodeling of bathrooms.

The list is longer, but commissioners agreed to tackle the big projects first, then go to the "wish list."

Renko brought a sizeable wish list to the table as he discussed opening new hiking and biking trails at Lake Leatherwood and around Black Bass Lake.

The Western Carroll County Community Development Partnership (CDP) recently got a $10,000 grant for the Black Bass to Lake Leatherwood Trail Project.

Renko brought a proposal to blaze a new trail through Hyde Hollow to connect Harmon Park and Leatherwood.

He has talked with Penny Carroll, developer of a housing addition at the edge of the city, which has an entrance off Pivot Rock Road. Access to the trail would be through her property.

"She is very excited to get to work on the trail," Renko said.

He also wants to develop new trails from Highway 62 properties to Black Bass Lake. He said there will be some legal issues regarding access that have to be worked out.

He said members of the Arkansas Forestry Commission service, the Ozark Off Road Cyclists and some volunteers are willing to do the work to open the trails.

Commissioners gave him the "go-ahead" to start working on developing plans for the projects.

Commissioners allocated "up to $10,000 to purchase a truck" for the parks employees to use in their daily routines.

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