The Fairfield Bay City Council heard the word “winning” from City of Fairfield Bay Mayor Paul Wellenberger at its Monday night meeting, Oct. 8. In the course of the meeting council members heard of a tourism-growth project, as well as several awards the city had recently won.

The tourism-growth project was made to the council by Ronnie Walters, a businessman from Heber Springs. Walters presented the concept of a “Beach Grown Project.” The project would be the expansion of the Sandy Beach area along Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs from its current 1,600 feet to nearly 12,000 feet. The expansion would include entertainment and dining venues, including a 200 –plus acre entertainment park, as well as boat slips and docks along an extended swim-friendly beach, all designed with the idea of bringing tourists to Greers Ferry Lake.

Walters, who own Eden Isle Marina in Heber Springs, told the council the goal was to provide an entertainment outlet for people to visit, and stay, at the lake. The project’s size and scope would impact the region by turning the lake into a destination resort. He explained his own history of tenants at the Eden Isle Mariana who “… don’t have any place to spend money. They’d spend the money if they had a place to spend it, and this will give them a place to spend it.”

The project would end what Walters called the “economic obsolescence” of the area by creating a go-forward plan drawing tourists (“no sharks, no alligators, no jellyfish, no mosquitos”), and jobs, to the area.

“This is the biggest thing in the state of Arkansas,” Walters said, “all we’ve got to have is the will and we can make it happen.”

A handout had been given to council members which included, other than an overview of the project, a list of city, county, state and national representatives whose backing would be needed to assure the project. Walters told the group that calling each of these names would be the next step in moving forward with the project.

While no vote was taken, the council appeared generally willing to contact representatives. A quick aside was made during the discussion as to how a project of this size would be impacted by the wet/dry expected for the 2020 election.

The council also heard from the Mayor regarding three recent awards the city earned, including the Southwest Region Star award (see related story, 1A) as well as the city’s Trendsetter award to be made by the Arkansas Municipal League at its Jan. 17 meeting. The Trendsetter award was for the city’s work in tourism development and public safety.

Also in award news was Fairfield Bay Police officer Lyle Fultz being presented both the Van Buren County and Northwest Arkansas Officer of the Year award by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Fultz was cited when he went into a burning home in the city to rescue a man inside.

“Are we tired of winning yet?” Wellenberger asked the council.

In other council matters:

The council was told 911 funding for 2019 was resolved. “We have committed to pay our fair share and county has agreed to the budgeted amount,” Treasurer Rose Greer told the group.

Fairfield Bay Police Chief David Burnett reported property crimes were down 34 percent for the year, with zero theft or property reports for September.

Fairfield Bay Police is also planning a woman’s self-defense class at the Conference Center, Nov. 20.

The fire department reported raising $2,100 toward a tanker project from the recent ATV Poker Run. It continues work on building a tanker.

Animal Shelter discussion led to the council being told the vicious dog ordinance may need to be updated. A recent incident of a chained-but-vicious dog has led to consideration of what the ordinance allows, Wellenberger told the group.

Repairs to Lynn Creek Drive are planned after its recent wash-out, including improvements to the drainage and reinforcement.

Broadband may become available throughout the city via installation of fiber. Work is being done to see if a USDA loan is available to provide this, Wellenberger told the council.

The council passed a 5 mills ad valorem for 2019, no change from 2018