School board gives thumbs up to fitness trail

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Eureka Springs School Board on Monday adopted a resolution agreeing to allow the construction of a fitness trail at the site of the former Eureka Springs High School.

The site is now home to the Eureka Springs Community Center, whose operating foundation leases the property from the school district.

Bill Featherstone, representing the community center foundation, addressed the school board at Monday's meeting. Featherstone briefly outlined plans for the trail, which will be lighted and paved and will feature 10 to 20 exercise stations. Plans also call for an unpaved, unlighted spur trail.

Featherstone said the community center foundation has $40,000 saved for the trail project and is applying for a $35,000 state grant.

"I do have a rough idea of what the trail's going to cost and it's going to be somewhere around $100,000, but that is very preliminary."

In order to receive the grant, Featherstone said the area to be used for the trail will need to be leased to the city of Eureka Springs, either through a direct agreement between the school board and the city, or through a sublease between the community center foundation and the city.

He asked the school board to adopt a resolution saying that it will enter a lease agreement with the city.

"The agreement will be between the school district and the city of Eureka Springs, unless you defer to us," he said.

The grant would require that the site be used for a trail for 15 years, or the state could seek repayment of the grant money.

School board members questioned who would be responsible for repaying the grant if the trail is not operational for 15 years.

"Who's on the hook here financially?" asked board president Chris McClung.

"The city," Featherstone replied, although he said the community center foundation would pay for a surety bond to indemnify the city against any financial loss.

School board members were hesitant to adopt a resolution regarding a lease.

"I think we all probably support the idea in theory, but when it comes down to technicalities, we have some concerns," McClung said.

Featherstone said that although the community center foundation must make a presentation for the grant in February, the timetable for actually receiving the grant is much longer.

"What they need to know at the end of February, in concept, is that the school board is willing to lease that property to the city."

Board member Al Larson made a motion to adopt a resolution agreeing to allow the community center foundation to build the fitness trail. The motion passed, 6-0.

In other business, the board approved a bid of $14,000 from Craftsman Building Services Co., to repair the roof at the old high school building, and approved the hiring of Susan Ragsdale as a paraprofessional at the elementary school.

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