Talks of possibly remove dam to restore Lake Harrison to natural stream

HARRISON, Ark. -- Crews are working to restore Lake Harrison after it was drained in the search for the Villines, whose bodies were later found in a creek downstream.

"Earlier this week we were able to get started closing up the channel around the weir," Wade Phillips, the Harrison public works director, said. "That was actually completed yesterday. So they're moving forward with more dirt work, and we hope before the end of the week to get started on the concrete work and get things put back together. It's still a few weeks out."

But now the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is approaching Harrison city council to possibly remove the dam.

Lake Harrison is part of Crooked Creek, and removing the dam would restore the lake back to its natural stream.

"They've learned it's not really good for stream ecology. So they're starting to go back and work with some of the municipalities and other entities to try to start getting some of them removed," Phillips said.

The public works director said Lake Harrison was originally created for recreational purposes.

The lake has walking trails around it as well as the playground, and events are held there every year.

And Phillips said no matter what, he wouldn't want that to go away.

"That's one of the things that, as I'm talking to council, I'm going to say, 'Look if we're going to do this, we need to do this right. We need to more look at this as an opportunity to expand the parks, expand the trails in the area, versus just tearing out a dam and letting it be what it is,'" he said.

People who we spoke with at the playground had mixed feelings. Some said they think the lake is a part of the community.

Others said they wouldn't mind getting rid of the dam and didn't understand why it was put up in the first place.

"Discussions about the dam and the difficulties of getting that searched may have brought it back up, but this is a discussion, I've been here eight years, and this is probably the third or fourth time it's come up," Phillips said.

Right now the only area of the lake that is open is the playground. Harrison leaders ask that you stay away from the area as they are working to restore the lake. They hope to be done in about three to four weeks.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will speak with Harrison city council members at a special meeting scheduled for April 1 at noon in Harrison city chambers. The meeting is open to the public.