Eureka Springs Parks Commission OKs $7,500 for fireworks

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
ES Parks and Rec

Eureka Springs will have a fireworks show on the Fourth of July.

On Tuesday, May 18, the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission agreed to allocate $7,500 for the fireworks show. Chairman Kevin Ruehle said he spoke with a fireworks company and learned there are two available packages: one for $10,000 and one for $15,000. The $10,000 package, Ruehle said, is equivalent to the package the commission purchased in 2019 for $8,000.

"They are now more expensive," Ruehle said.

Ruehle said he spoke at the City Advertising and Promotion Commission's last workshop, where everyone agreed it would be best to have the show on Sunday, July 4. The other available date, Ruehle said, is Friday, July 2.

"Their preference would be to do it on Sunday night as a draw to get people to town and spend the entire three-day weekend here," Ruehle said.

Ruehle said the $15,000 package is the only package available for July 4. The CAPC has not voted yet, Ruehle said, but he expects the commission to kick in the remaining $7,500 for the show. Ruehle said CAPC chairman Jeff Carter has approached the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Great Passion Play about contributing funds.

"The chamber of commerce has said they have no money in their budget to support it but they will go to their business members to try to raise funds to offset the cost for us, so it doesn't fall entirely to the CAPC and us," Ruehle said.

Interim director Scott Miskiel said the fireworks company needs a commitment as soon as possible.

"I explained to them that we had a meeting and it would take a vote," Miskiel said. "They understand that basically tomorrow would be the earliest they would have an agreement."

Miskiel recalled working to get the fireworks show set up in 2019 when he was the city gardener.

"It was a whole lot more work than we need to do this time," Miskiel said. "It would be a whole lot more streamlined."

Time is of the essence, Miskiel said.

"If we don't give them a commitment and get a contract signed within the next day or two, we would have missed the opportunity," he said.

Ruehle said there's "very little risk" that the CAPC would decline to pay its half of the show.

"The risk is with $15,000 that it's $7,500 apiece for us unless the chamber can get business owners to contribute to offset it and there's always the odd chance that for some reason the CAPC may vote no on funding it," Ruehle said.

Ruehle asked if the fireworks company needs a deposit and Miskiel said he hasn't heard anything about a deposit yet. Miskiel suggested asking for 48-hour notice if the company gets another offer. At that time, Miskiel said, the commission could pay in full to ensure the fireworks show will happen.

Commissioner Ruth Hager said everyone in town would support the fireworks.

"Even if we have to do the whole $15,000 I still think that's worth it," Hager said. "The amount of money it would bring to town it's crazy not to jump on it. I hope the CAPC can help out. I hope we can move quickly."

Hager moved to approve a payment up to $7,500 for the show, saying the commission would sign a letter of intent to commit to the fireworks company. Commissioner Sue Hubbard asked if the commission could reasonably cover the cost and Ruehle said it should be no problem at all.

"We're in good shape financially. We're seeing that revenues are up over last year," Ruehle said. "All shuttle revenues are exceeding our projections at this point. Even with all the bad weather we've had, we're doing much better than we projected this early on."

Commissioner Dave Hartmann said he doesn't think fireworks "really falls under what parks ought to be doing" and Hager said the commission has put on fireworks shows for years.

"When we looked at it years ago to see how other cities pay for it, it's either parks departments or fire departments," Hager said.

"I'm not sure that it really makes sense but if that's what's historically happened, that's what's historically happened," Hartmann said.

The commission voted to approve Hager's motion 4-2, with Hartmann and commissioner Scott Bardin voting no. Bardin stated at the end of the meeting that he was "perplexed" at why the CAPC wasn't taking on the full cost of the fireworks. He said he was concerned about the parks finances.

"We are doing well, but things don't always end that way," Bardin said. "I'm not against it, but I'm cautious of it."

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, at The Auditorium.

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