Saunders Heights not overlooked as potential attraction
Saunders Heights Overlook is one of the best views in the county. Now that the city of Berryville has repaved it, it might be one of the most convenient as well.
Chris Claybaker, Berryville's economic director, said the city added the repaving onto a street grant it already had.
"It made a difference -- a big difference," Claybaker said.
Before the renovation, Claybaker said the surface of Saunders Heights had worn down because of weather and other factors. He described how the freezing weather of past winters caused more potholes than expected.
"When you have a big freeze, all it does it make it worse," Claybaker said.
The repaving, he continued, is one of the first steps to draw more tourists to Berryville. To promote a product, Claybaker said, it's important to make sure the product is worth promoting first.
"When tourists come here, we want them to have a good experience. We don't want them to blow a tire because of a pothole," Claybaker said.
With the work on Saunders Heights, Claybaker said the city has even more to be proud of. He pointed out all the tourist attractions in the city, including
the Saunders Museum, the Heritage Museum and the bike trails. The bike trails in Berryville, Claybaker said, are better than many of the trails in Fayetteville and other large cities in Northwest Arkansas.
"We've got a trail system Fayetteville has been working on for 20 years, and nobody knows about it," Claybaker said.
A large reason why Berryville doesn't draw a lot of tourists, he continued, is that people don't talk about the city as a tourist attraction. Claybaker said the city's proximity to Eureka Springs should be a benefit to tourism but hasn't quite worked out that way.
"I think that Berryville has played a supporting role to Eureka Springs for so long and tourism is such a big deal in Eureka Springs that nobody -- not even long-term residents here -- really thinks about it," Claybaker said. "There's things here that bring people from all over the United States to see."
Claybaker acknowledged that Berryville residents fear increased tourism would benefit Eureka Springs more than Berryville, saying tourists likely wouldn't stay in Berryville. Still, he said, tourists could visit Berryville for its restaurants, shops and museums.
"I think the word is slowly but surely going to get out there, and we're going to change our attitude. It'll be OK if they come here and go to Eureka Springs to stay," Claybaker said.
Carroll County on the whole, Claybaker noted, is a strong unit.
"You've got agriculture, you've got manufacturing, you've got retail and you've got tourism," Claybaker said.