Future of RiverBend Park Still Gloomy

May 27, 2007 - Posted at 9:39 p.m. CDT

CHEROKEE VILLAGE-The fans were blowing as hundreds pulled up their lawn chairs for a long afternoon.

At the sound of the gavel, the meeting was called to order.

"I signed a contract saying, if I payed my dues I would get to use my property, and that is not happening," said Elizabeth Johnson.

More than 700 property owners, had just one question, when could they return?

"All management has got to do is get off their duff and get out there and do what the EPA wants and we can get back in the park," said Gerald Tosh.

The park's future is currently tied up within the court system.

In a reading of March 5th court records, the responsibility was put on current RiverBend managers Clifton Johnson and Wayne Watkins.

"I would say that this would be the responsibility of both Mr. Watkins and Mr. Johnson. Any failure to correct these deficiencies could result in civil penalties of so much per day, until these deficiencies are corrected," read President of the Property Owners Association, Austin DePriest.

Many property owners don't understand why the actions of a few are affecting everyone.

"I can't understand why the EPA or the ADEQ can shut down a company that's burying hazardous waste, or fine the company. Why can't they do the same thing for individual property owners," said Jimmy Petty.

As Sunday's meeting moved to new business, like changes to the set of by-laws, emotions in the room came to a quick boil.

"They do not keep in touch with people. There was never any mention of by-laws and now all of a sudden there is a set of by-laws," said Petty.

But by-laws or not, people came to hear one thing...

"Pretty much exactly where we stood, and from what I can tell he pretty much skirted the issue," said Petty.

While some felt not enough progress was made at Sunday's meeting, those who have lived in Riverbend Park for several years, say the real problems started a long time ago.

"The EPA has contacted management at this park since 2002. They've made several inspections and found them in violation each time. They've given them warnings each time, and they ignored them. They simply ignored the EPA," said Tosh.

"We need to do what is necessary to get this park open. These people are not working. They've had long enough to get it going and it's not working," said Johnson as the crowd cheered.

The park cannot be reopened until all violations found have been corrected and met the standards set forth by the Arkansas Department of Evironmental Quality.

K8 News will continue to follow this, and bring the latest to property owners as it becomes available.

Story ideas or comments?  Email me at wcarter@kait8.com.