Showdown in the Spa | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Showdown in the Spa

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will visit Hot Springs Thursday. It's not merely a get-acquainted visit at the country's historic national park. Community relations will be discussed.

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At issue are relations between some city leaders and Hot Springs National Park Superintendent Josie Fernandez, who's sued the city for using Hot Springs National Park in its promotional campaigns, and who otherwise seems to have chapped a number of important people. Work on the lawsuit is well underway, with depositions already taken from key players.

Will Salazar take bold action? He's viewed as potentially more friendly than the Bush administration to the Democratic members of Congress trying to mediate the long-running dispute (he was a Democratic Senate colleague of Pryor and Lincoln). He could promote Fernandez elsewhere. He could encourage an end to the lawsuit. The city has, after all, called itself Hot Springs N.P. as long as just about anyone can remember. Or Salazar might just encourage everyone to try to play nicely together. Fernandez has been roiling the thermal waters since raising rates on the water five years ago and stopping a particular proposed bathhouse redevelopment idea (probably the right call, in retrospect).

Lots of parties will be watching with interest.

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