Handrail just temporary, parks officials say

Yes, a handrail for a set of stairs at Basin Spring Park is temporary, Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation director Sam Dudley and members of the parks commission wanted to assure residents.

The railing has been a topic on social media in recent days and was brought up during director comments early in the commission’s monthly meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 17 at The Auditorium.

A photo of the handrail has been posted on Facebook with comments by some assuming the rail was permanent because of it being bolted into the stone.

“I just would like to let everyone know that the handrail on the stairs is temporary,” Dudley said. “I know bolts were put in, but it’s the only way you can attach it to the stones, by putting in bolts. There’s no other way to do it.

“Stacy’s Stonework put in the temporary handrail for us, which is great.”

Dudley said the stairs need to be redone and he has had conversations with Kyle Palmer, the city’s historic preservation officer, about plans to renovate or replace the stairs to meet Historic District Commission standards and have the stairs lead more to the sidewalk and not so close to the roadway.

“I remember going down those steps thinking ‘this is kind of dangerous’ because it didn’t have a handrail,” commissioner Mark Ingram said regarding a recent visit to the park before the temporary railing was added. “Then I saw the infamous Facebook post. Yes, it’s much better. I don’t care about if it’s temporary or not, it’s much better than not having one at all.”

Dudley said reattaching the original railing was attempted.

“We tried a lot of different things,” he said. “I just would like to let you all know that we did try to fix it several times and you’re trying to adhere to a broken step so it’s never going to work.

“So, we figured, if we’re going to redo the whole thing anyway, let’s try to improve it rather than building it as is, right? As long as we do it correct and get HDC approval then I think we can do that.”


The topic of the handrail was brought up near the end of the meeting during commissioner comments when Ingram voiced his aggravation at recent “negative comments” from the public on Facebook about parks-related issues.

“I have something to say,” Ingram said. “Based on the recent Facebook postings, negative comments, everybody’s got their opinion. I’d like to make a statement to all of those who are listening of things to not do. One, don’t speak for everyone. If you have something to say, say ‘in my opinion,’ not ‘Americans think the signs look horrible.’ Speak for yourself.

“Two, the minute you start badmouthing our staff, I’m going to tell you personally, I’m turning it off. I’m no longer listening to you. You’re not relevant to me anymore. When you’re coming at it with a negative approach, I think, as a whole, this town is tired of it.”

The commission is open to suggestions, to volunteers, offers to help and “positive interactions,” Ingram said.

“But we are done with negative, badmouthing people,” he said. “We have a great staff. We’re very proud of them. We’re proud of our parks. A lot has happened in the last year. Are we perfect? No. We are all willing to listen to anybody’s opinion, but don’t assume your opinion is the only opinion. There are a lot of opinions. We, as a commission, along with our director, have the responsibility to make the decision. If you want to be on the decision-making path, get on the commission. Send in your request, solutions for things, offer positive suggestions. All of us here will be happy to listen and present them if we believe also that they’re the right thing to do.”

Those who have an opinion about parks, or anything in the city, should be willing to call or email the related department and ask questions or offer input, Ingram said.

“If you have enough time to get on Facebook and badmouth everybody then you’ve got enough time to pick up the phone and call and ask a question,” he said. “You might just get the right answer if you call directly.

“A prime example is somebody posting some hateful comment about the temporary railing. It’s getting on Facebook and negative responses as opposed to calling the city and saying, ‘hey, is that temporary?’ … It would’ve been that easy. So, if you really care, that’s what you would do. The rest of it is just to be hateful. That’s all you’re trying to do. You’re not trying to offer solutions to anything. You just want to be hateful.”

Ingram went on to say that people who post negative comments need to understand that decisions are thought out before they’re made.

“… By some of these posts that I’ve seen, you assume that all of us are stupid and we have not looked into anything,” he said. “That we never considered asking the right appropriate people for something because we’re all just dumb and you have the answer and we don’t. Let’s not just assume that all of us have never thought about that. Most of us have worked in corporate environments and we understand that you have to get the answers from the people who know. So, don’t assume that we are just passing everything without thinking about it. And that’s what I have to say on the subject.”

Negativity isn’t just related to parks, Ingram said.

“It’s true not just for us, it’s been true for all the other commissions and it’s been true for the city council,” he said. “These negative posts.”

Ruth Hager, commission chair, responded: “You speak for a lot public servants in this town.”

Ingram concluded his comments by saying many in Eureka Springs are “done with this negative stuff, too.”

“They want a cohesive government, a cohesive commission that is doing positive things, getting excited about things,” he said. “… There’s positive things going on out here and we’re going to stay positive. I try not to let that get to me because I know they’re not really speaking for everybody. But there’s a way to handle it.

“It doesn’t mean they don’t have valid concerns. Valid concerns we care about. Tell us. … Let’s be positive instead of finding negative things to attack, because then it becomes personal and it becomes we don’t hear you.”

Negative opinions are the minority, Hager said, adding she had heard many positive comments from people in the community in recent days.

“I heard a lot of positive things about Jamboreeka, the parks, how things are going, getting ready for Christmas decorations, getting ready for fall,” she said. “Just lots of positive stuff the last couple of days. … Lot of positive interaction I’ve had so when you get the negative thing, like you said, if it’s not offering a solution, it’s just someone complaining. I do turn it off, too. … The have a right to speak, but then again we don’t have to listen to them complain if they’re not going to be part of the solution.”


Dudley told commissioners that work to repair the railings atop the dam at Lake Leatherwood is underway and a crystal to honor veterans from the Spanish-American War was returned to Basin Spring Park after moving around various other parks in the city for the past 30 years.

The crystal was relocated from Basin Spring Park when a wall was redone and it eventually ended up at Harmon Park, he said.

“It’s been kind of a process, but we finally got it back in,” Dudley said.

Dudley also told commissioners that he hopes to connect with local artists and possibly art students at Eureka Springs High School regarding a project to repaint the skate park at Harmon Park.

“We were trying to drum up some enthusiasm,” Dudley said. “We went out there after we power washed the whole thing. We didn’t get all the paint off, but we got a good chunk of it off …” Things got busy since then, and artists have been busy, so the project will probably resume in the spring, Dudley said.