Eureka Springs Parks to purchase 2 shuttles for downhill trails

Friday, September 6, 2019

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is investing in the downhill mountain bike trails at Lake Leatherwood City Park.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, the commission heard from director Justin Huss about the shuttles. Huss said he negotiated what he considers a fair price to purchase Shuttlebug from Jim Nelson and Jamie Brandt but said he needed more time to nail down the specifics to purchase a shuttle bus that is ADA compliant. Commissioner Steven asked if it’s required to meet ADA standards and Huss said it is.

“We could do a trip to Crystal Bridges and take people,” Huss said. “If we want to offer programming or any other uses with that, then we do need to require that.”

Huss said the commission would need to meet at a special called meeting later in the week to vote on the purchases, so the commission met again on Monday, Aug. 26, at the Harmon Park office. Huss presented the details on the purchases, saying he negotiated with Nelson and Brandt to purchase Shuttlebug for $28,958. They originally purchased the vehicle for around $33,000 more than a year ago, Huss said.

“They’ve been extremely helpful in operating the shuttles,” Huss said.

He remembered approaching them last year to run the shuttles at Lake Leatherwood, saying Shuttlebug sat empty for months and they intended to sell it. Shuttlebug is a 2014 Ford E350 and can carry up to 14 people at a time.

“They didn’t come to us with a business plan to make a profit,” Huss said. “They basically kept operating the shuttle because I asked them to –– because we needed the shuttle to operate. It saved us money, but we need to quit hemorrhaging money on shuttles and move on.”

Between 2018 and 2019, Huss said, the commission spent more than $90,000 to lease Shuttlebug. He said the commission would easily save money by purchasing it outright. Chairman Bill Featherstone asked if the price is fair, pointing out a needed repair on Shuttlebug. Huss said he budgeted the cost of the repair into the purchase price.

Foster moved to purchase Shuttlebug for $28,959 and the commission agreed to do so.

The commission then addressed the ADA compliant shuttle bus, a 2013 Ford Starcraft that can carry up to 12 people at a time. In a previous life, Huss said, the bus was operated by a retirement home. The shuttle would cost $35,000, Huss said.

“I feel very comfortable that this meets those criteria,” he said. “It’s from a reputable dealer, the vehicle’s in good shape and it’s been maintained and cleaned.”

Foster moved to purchase the second shuttle for $35,000 and the commission agreed to do so. Commissioner Ruth Hager said she’s excited to see how the shuttles improve the trails system.

“This is a capital expense,” Hager said. “This is an asset.”

Featherstone agreed.

“The reason we’re doing this is because they’re paying for themselves,” Featherstone said. “It’s part of a service.”

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at The Auditorium.

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