EUREKA SPRINGS -- "We are here to consider the recommendations from the Trails Committee regarding access to private property," announced Bill Featherstone, chairman of the Parks Commission, at the March 6 special meeting. The Trails Committee had been looking for ways to connect the hiking/biking trails in the city limits, and the connecting sections are across private properties.
Parks wanted written -- not just verbal -- permission to allow public access over these connecting trails, so members of the Trails Committee researched documents from other states which landowners sign as evidence of their permission.
The Trails Committee recommended two documents for this purpose. Commissioner Betsy Rodier clarified that the Landowner Permission Form came originally from a Vermont document, and the Multi-Trail Easement Form came from Fayetteville.
Parks Director Bruce Levine adapted the original documents according to commissioners' input, including adding a line from Arkansas State Code intended to protect landowners.
Featherstone said both of these documents, which he described as simple and effective, had been presented to the full commission at its February meeting and then discussed by the Trails Committee. Commissioner Steven Foster added that these instruments have worked well in other cities.
Commissioner Ruth Hager asked what happens to the private property connectors if a landowner decides not to allow permission any longer. Featherstone pointed out that parks would close access to the connecting section by fencing it off or providing a barrier and appropriate signage if necessary.
Foster moved to accept the recommendation of using the adapted Landowner Permission Form and Multi-Trail Easement Form pending review by city attorney Tim Weaver. Vote on his motion was unanimous.
Featherstone added that very soon parks will have a foldable, weatherproof brochure-type document featuring maps of all the trails in the parks system.