During the course of a recent evening ride in Two Rivers park, a group of cyclists encountered a Pulaski County Sheriff's Department patrol car and a couple of deputies blocking the River Trail. They were told that the park closes at 8:00PM and chastened for ignoring the signs. I did a survey of signs after that adventure and discovered that the only sign regarding Two Rivers Park hours was at the County Farm Road entrance on the west end of the park which advised that the park closes at sunset. Another sign on the other side of the same entrance now says that the park closes at 8:00PM. There is nothing at the Two Rivers Bridge entrance regarding park hours.
A similar incident in the spring of 2012 led to Judge Villines saying that cyclists would be allowed to pass through the park after dark. The problem, he said at the time, was that walkers were entering the park at dusk only to find that it gets really dark out there at night. Some would then panic, a natural reaction to being in a snake, critter and likely zombie infested swamp in pitch dark, and call 911, triggering a trip by deputies to escort the fearful strollers back to their car.
BACA and the Arkansas River Trail Task Force got involved in seeking clarification of the after-hours policy for Two Rivers Park and received this e-mail from Judge Villines:
From: Buddy Villines <email@example.com>
Date: September 6, 2013, 10:30:17 AM CDT
<MWebre@littlerock.org>, doc holladay <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Two Rivers Park
I’ve heard from everybody, including the sheriff’s office. I believe the policy is that cyclists may use the trail as part of “transit” through the park. There will remain a problem of walkers who should not use the trail as access to the park which is closed after sundown.
Even Buddy's statement leaves a little wiggle room, but the intent is that cyclists should be able to ride through the park after dark. Note that Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay is on copy. If you're cruising the trail loops and encounter deputies, you will likely be asked to leave.
In any event, should you have contact with law enforcement folks, please just be polite, relate your understanding of the policy, and then follow their direction. If it conflicts with the judge's understanding, then we'll go back to work to get a more definitive statement.
Burns Park Mountain Bike Trails
BikeNerds noticed some equipment staged at Burns Park recently and started asking questions, as nerds are prone to do. The work going on in the area of the mountain bike trails is an effort to locate any old ordnance from the area. As you may be aware, this was a training area as a part of Camp Pike before it was deeded over as a park and some old explosives have been found over the years. Joe Jacobs of Arkansas Outside and I were in a race for information and he won! I got the basic info from Jeff Caplinger, NLR Parks, but here's some detail from Joe:
The Corps of Engineers has cut a grid pattern in that they are using to determine "areas of interest" for possible ordnance. They now have about 25 50' X 50' grid areas that they will be doing some digging in to look for bad things. Each area has a surrounding buffer area. Jeff didn't know how long the work would be going on, depends on what they find. All is suppose to be put back to normal when done. There are other similar areas they are working on near Mayflower.
The trails are clear, that was taken care of when Bert Turner reworked them a couple of years ago, Jeff said if you are off trail and come across something suspicious, mark the spot, leave it alone and go tell someone. I suggest telling JBar our local bomb ordnance expert.