Basin Park is the centerpiece of Eureka Springs. Since the founding of the Spring in the late 1800’s, it has undergone so many changes that it is difficult to freeze a date, and call it historical from that point. The 2003 Basin Park Improvement Committee is proposing some changes to stimulate the funding necessary to renovate and repair parts of the Park that have been subject to deterioration for many years, and at the same time create a dramatic new feature.
The Basin Bark Projects centerpiece is a renovation of the existing fountain and the creation of a stairway leading down to the original spring basin, inspired by our Sweet Spring staircase. In the next 10-20 years engineers tell us that the fountain will need shoring up. Just witness the fountain base leaning more and more every year. This will be another unbudgeted expense that neither the Parks nor the City can afford. The Park also needs new surfacing. With the selling of inscribed bricks, benches and historical plaques, we can accomplish all this without any cost to the taxpayers plus give our visitors and residents a new feature that leads to the oldest feature, the original Spring Basin. The selling of inscribed bricks to create a pathway in a historical area is very common these days. Jamestown settlement 1616, Franklin Tennessee Historic District-1799 and Fenway Park Boston-1920 to name just a few of many, who have employed this technique to preserve and enhance what is dear to their community.
Some concern has been raised about the staircase being a liability to the City. Built to exceed code, this staircase will be safer than the numerous sets of stairs all around town. Replacing the park floor and lowering the semi-circle in front of the band shell to flush with the floor will also address existing safety issues. Also a concern is taking up more space in an already small Park. Truth is, by removing the platform for the dough boy, placing it on the second level, we are actually increasing the amount of usable space by almost 100 sq.ft. In addition to that we are adding 14 seats around the rim of the basin, equal to 3-4 benches.
We estimate the cost of this renovation to be around $300,000. Again this money will be raised by the sale of bricks, benches and historical plaques, not a penny of public funds will be expended. Community groups will have the opportunity to sell bricks and keep a portion for their associations. The bricks will be set in such a way that we will be able to continue to sell inscribed bricks and earn the funds necessary to address other issues in the Park.
Maybe the best question of all is “Why”. The best answer is: Since we have to do structural work needed to repair the fountain and the surface of the Park, we might as well take the once in a Century opportunity to incorporate a new feature that uncovers the long covered Basin and make it the focal point of our Park.
For a complete list of questions and answers, please view the Basin Park Improvement Committee “White Paper”. Also, look closely and see the before and after pictures that show how well the new feature fits into the park.