by Karen Sherrell
The Horseshoe Bend Theater located at the lower mall will be the site for a public meeting held by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“AGFC has scheduled a public meeting concerning the proposed Crown Lake boat ramp at Fisherman’s Park for Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m. at the Horseshoe Bend Theater,” wrote Jeremy Risley, District 2 Fisheries Supervisor, in an email dated Thursday, February 19.
Municipal Recreational Improvement District Commissioners voted 4-1 at their January 15 meeting, to pursue an agreement with AGFC to build a launch ramp at the park, along with vehicle and trailer parking, a boarding dock, ramp and portable toilet. The total project cost to AGFC is $112,000.
According to Risley, AGFC received 24 emails, five letters and two calls against the proposed launch, following the January meeting. They received ten emails in favor of the project. Over 150 people attended that meeting.
“We will be holding a public meeting to give everyone interested an opportunity to voice their opinion,” said Risley. “Representative Gray and Senator Collins-Smith have contacted us, so we would like to invite them to the public meeting also,” he added. The AGFC planned the meeting at a time that both state officials can attend, according to Risley.
Currently, Box Hound Marina offers the only launch ramp on Crown Lake, which is free to property owners. The AGFC and Box Hound Marina discussed a proposal to repair the marina launch and other specifics, but after months of discussion, could not come to an agreement.
At the January MRID meeting, former commissioner J. R. Wilson told audience members that AGFC had talked to the MRID while he was on the commission, and stated that if the marina and AGFC changed their minds on their agreement, the money goes away. “It’s between the state and Box Hound,” said Wilson. “MRID shouldn’t have anything to do with it. It (Fisherman’s Park) is an amenity. You’d be getting rid of an amenity, a park to a parking lot.”
Chairman of the MRID, Tom Doty, stated that AGFC had contacted MRID to see if they would like to place a public launch at Fisherman’s Park.
According to Doty, the proposed launch placement falls into the guidelines in place for encroachment on adjacent property owners. “There is a pie-shaped part at the park corner at the bottom of the curve that is MRID’s, part of Fisherman’s Park,” he said.
Property owner John Mosser is in favor of the free public launch. “This means more people in town, more money spent here,” said Mosser at the January meeting. “You cannot prevent change. You plan, accept and benefit from it.”
Those against the project cite the increase in vehicle and boat traffic, insufficient policing of the lake, possible increase in theft and noise, and a decline in lakefront property values. Those for the project look forward to an increase in commerce in the city with the availability of a free public boat launch.
Anyone wishing to voice their opinion on the proposed boat launch is invited to attend the March 24 public meeting at the Horseshoe Bend Theater, hosted by AGFC.