ES parks director reports successful year
Going into 2017, parks director Justin Huss is hoping to continue the work the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission did in 2016.
Huss said Dec. 27 that the commission did well financially all year, ending the year $27,450 over projected revenue at Lake Leatherwood City Park. The overall revenue, he said, is $37,519.68 over annual projections and the expenses are $18,362.86 under the budget.
"We will end the year under budget and be able to reallocate the surplus funds at our budget meeting," Huss said.
Huss said the commission is doing well in other facets, too. He said he just finished scouting at Black Bass Lake to install some future trails, saying parks continues to work with the Carroll County Riders to coordinate a maintenance schedule for projects to work on.
"We are working to create an action plan for the construction of an in-town trail in accordance with the trails master plan," Huss said. "We believe that there are useful sections that can be installed with minimal expense."
Huss continued, saying he's been discussing connecting current and future housing developments to the trail system with local developers.
"These developers are building in a responsible and well-thought-out manner that includes rain gardens and other drainage considerations," Huss said. "Trails are a component that most builders are incorporating into site plans. The connectivity and quality of life provided by trails is a valuable asset for those seeking to market a development."
Huss gave an update on Lake Leatherwood City Park, pointing out that the playground project is underway. The project should be completed soon, he said.
"It is already an impressive structure and will be enjoyed by many," Huss said.
The cabin remodels are underway as well. Huss said HVAC units have been installed and fascia and soffit boards are being replaced, along with some rafter ends and decking. He said parks will be sending out a bid request for a window replacement on five of the cabins.
"We will be requesting two types of bids, one that is the most appropriate standard, modern window with grids and the second one for more appropriate reproduction of the levee-type windows that are the original style," Huss said.
He said parks is trying to reach out to local artists in the community for input on projects at Lake Leatherwood.
"We would like to use local artists to improve on items like fire rings, grills and lantern hangers in the immediate future, but would also like to incorporate local artisans into other plans," Huss said. "We will have more on this in the coming month."
All is well at Harmon Park, Huss said. He reported that the mowing contractors continue to work every other week and will be cleaning the fence lines next.
"We have not made much progress on the plans for repairs to the Harmon bathrooms," he said. "We are leaning towards removing the facade forming the building and considering other options."
He said there has been some additional vandalism at the park, with the bathrooms being spray painted. Huss said it will be easier to remove the graffiti once the weather warms up.
He added that city gardener Tom Beckendorf has begun preparing the gardens at the spring parks for the winter. Beckendorf is just one of the many valuable staff members, Huss said. He explained that the staff has been working hard on numerous projects, including cabin exterior remodels, cleaning, collecting inventory and other year-end projects. He said the parks staff participated in the Eureka Springs Christmas Parade for the first time this year and had a great time.
"Our flatbed was decorated and populated with staff and their family," Huss said. "We intend to participate in future parades as well. It's good for parks and the staff enjoys it."
Overall, Huss said, parks has been doing well. He said many projects are underway, saying these projects come with delays and challenges.
"Suppliers and weather are always a challenge, and the holidays mix in to create an inconsistent month," he said. "Despite all of this, we have been utilizing our staff and are still confident that we will see tremendous results in the coming months."
Parks has continued to have consistent visitation, he said, even as it's gotten colder outside.
"I was speaking to a longtime fisherman just this morning. He asked me if there was a race today or 'Why are all these people here?' " Huss said. "I saw license plates from Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska."
He continued, "To borrow from 'Field of Dreams,' they are coming, and we are building it. Maybe not in the standard manner, but this is Eureka Springs after all."