Attendance at the beach triple over the past three years

As the summer season approaches, Heber Springs city officials say they are committed to maintaining and improving Sandy Beach. 

Heber Springs Mayor Jimmy Clark says the city has seen attendance at the beach triple over the past three years, and he is happy to see locals and tourists alike making use of the area. 

Clark says the increased traffic has already forced the city to open the overflow parking area and add extra porta-potties to the beach. As attendance at Sandy Beach rises, so too does the amount of litter left behind by visitors, and Clark asks the public to clean up after themselves after family outings and visits to the beach. Every other week, the city uses a rake-like machine to clean up cigarette butts, food containers, and other trash left behind by beachgoers. The city has also recently hired beach attendants to monitor and maintain the area and call authorities in the event of a water emergency. 

“Our main objective of course is safety,” said Clark. 

The city participates in a loaner life jacket program in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Life jackets in all sizes are available for temporary use, free of charge, to any beach visitor. Clark says the city is also looking to hire an open water lifeguard at Sandy Beach, but it has been unable to find qualified applicants. 

Work on a new sidewalk connecting Ely Street to the beach recently finished, and the city is also working to reconstruct Anderson Trail, a small path connecting the Vinegar Hill boat launch to Sandy Beach. The reconstructed trail will be a 12-foot wide crushed rock path with clear views of the lake along the way. Clark says the city would like to eventually extend the beach to Vinegar Hill, but high costs have prohibited the expansion. Other plans for beach improvements include adding playground equipment for young children, the mayor said. 

Sandy Beach is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the western end of W. Front Street in Heber Springs.