Crossett’s assistant Parks and Recreation Director spoke to the city council Monday about reviving the historic Yale Camp, but with one important change.
Sarah Hollimon, the assistant director in question, suggested moving it inside of the city limits.
Hollimon said the old camp hasn’t been used in years but the buildings are still at the original location, which is on land owned by Weyerhaeuser. Hollimon said when Plum Creek owned the land, the company donated the buildings to the City of Crossett.
Yale Camp was built in 1946 and is approximately one mile east of Crossett, just off U.S. Highway 82. It is the site of what was once an important adjunct to the Yale University School of Forestry. It was a spring camp for Yale students of forest management until its closure in 1966.
In the early 1900s, Yale University in New Haven, Conn., was perhaps an unlikely location of the nation’s premier school of forest management. To supplement work in the classroom, the school provided a spring field trip to southern forests, visiting as the guest of a different lumber company each year, since northern forests might still be under snow at the time of the field trip. The first trip to the forests of the Crossett Lumber Company occurred in 1912. Before the camp was built, the students lived in sawmill dormitories.
The Crossett Lumber Company offered the university a permanent site for its camp in 1946. The camp consisted of living cabins, teachers’ quarters, a shower house, and a mess hall.
It closed 20 years later as fewer and fewer students attended the camp.
Hollimon said that at one time Yale Camp was used for Girl Scouts, but now it’s simply abandoned and on private property, so the buildings are not accessible.
“At one time an idea was toyed with of moving them out to the (Crossett) Harbor, but problems arose with how to keep them from flooding,” Hollimon said. “Putting them eight feet in the air is very expensive to do.”
Hollimon proposed to the council that the buildings be relocated to the area in Parkway that used to be known as the city zoo.
Mayor Scott McCormick mentioned that the Crossett High School is currently using the area, but some council members expressed concern that the area was not being kept up.
Councilman Dale Martinie said he thought it was a great idea to set up an area where people can spend time with their families and camp out in town, but he questioned how easily the buildings could be moved.
Hollimon said she wasn’t sure of the buildings’ condition and that could be the reason they’ve never been moved before.
Martinie asked what the council needed to do to get the ball rolling in the project.
Hollimon said she could get permission from Weyerhaeuser to go out to the property and take a contractor to assess the situation.
In other news:
-Dr. Barry Thompson spoke to the council about the alley behind his building on Third Avenue and the parking lot that he shares with others. Thompson said the alleyway is not only dangerous for vehicles to bottom out in, but a patient almost fell out of a wheel chair while trying to get to his office.
Others in the crowd spoke about the parking lot, saying there were no stripes and that it was an accident waiting to happen, especially during lunch because the building shares a parking lot with a restaurant. The council and the mayor told Thompson they would look at estimates on getting the parking lot and alley repaired.
-Claude Spainhour spoke to the council about the recent paint the town event and said he had concerns. His main concern was the manhole painter behind First Baptist Church. He said he thought the paint would encourage others to graffiti the church’s property nearby.
Another concerned citizen asked about the fountain in Centennial Park and the signs coming in and out of the city. The mayor said the fountain had a design flaw where the electrical wires were placed under water and difficult to get to.
Public Works Director Jeff Harrison said the city was working to redesign the fountain to repair it. Harrison also said they were working to convert signs from solar to electric as the solar power didn’t seem to be working out.