Illegal Dumping Impacting Historical Recreation Area in Saline County

BENTON, Ark. - Illegal dumping has created an eye-sore near what one group has tried to turn into a historical treasure for central Arkansas. 

Saline Crossing Regional Park and Recreation Area, Inc., is behind the push to renovate the "Old River Bridge" which was built in 1891 but hasn't been in operation since the 70s. 

The group has worked to create and fund a park around it just beyond the end of city road River Street.

The group's President, Lynn Moore, has big plans for the area he touts wold be an easy access premiere recreation area.

He has a big task ahead of him though, hoping to have the stretch along the Saline River, beneath the shadow of what would be a restored Old River Bridge at the Saline Crossing, ready by next spring.

The bridge renovation will cost Saline County about $2.5 million. 

The non-profit group has about 40 lifetime members. 

"We'll have this place cleared out," Moore referred to the overgrown brush. "Hopefully we'll have some more picnic tables in place."

They wanted to go ahead and open the area to the public last year though. They opened the gate at the county line, but that's opened the door to a whole mess of a problem. 

"It's a shame. A crying shame," Moore said. "This is an embarrassing problem."

In just a handful of months people have seen this out of the way and out of public eye location as a good place to dump their trash.

As soon as one area gets cleaned up by Saline County crews, the trash seems to relocate closer to the river.

There is a landfill in Saline County open at times to the public. But this is free, right?

"No," Moore laughed. "Somebody has to pay for it." 

He calls it a waste of public resources and one that could push the dream of his group further down the road.

"Hey, this is our neighborhood," he added. "This is our backyard. Let's not trash our own backyard. For Heaven's sake."

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