Need a lift to the lake? Thanks to Burnside, the wheels are already in motion.

At a special meeting of the Burnside City Council Tuesday afternoon, councilors approved utilizing a shuttle van service at General Burnside Island State Park to help transport lakegoers from the boat ramp to the parking lot — or almost anywhere around the island — that would be funded by the Burnside Tourism Commission.

Mayor Chuck Fourman reported that the Pulaski County Fiscal Court was to have addressed donating a van to serve as the mode of transportation earlier in the day (the county would keep the van’s license and maintenance responsibilities), and that the Tourism Commission would provide the money to pay part-time employees to run the shuttle out of the approximately $25,000 the group would be giving the city’s Parks Fund. The city would actually be paying the employees.

“When they announced they were going to keep the lake lower, that was going to mean a longer walk from the ramp up to the parking lot,” said Fourman, “and when they said some of the other ramps in the county weren’t going to be extended, (that meant) the island was going to be used double-time.”

Hence Fourman put into motion the plan to operate shuttles, which he said “didn’t really get going until the last couple of weeks,” working in conjunction with the state and county.

Although the shuttle will not use any roads off of Burnside Island, it will go to all parking lots — including a third lot which the state is in the process of making available — and will have the ability to transport individuals to the campgrounds on the island as well. It will likely hold five to six people, Fourman estimated.

When the shuttle will operate is still in question. It is expected to start by Friday — the boat ramp will reportedly be accessible by this weekend — and go through the Labor Day holiday. However, the state will operate its own shuttle service at Burnside Island on Saturdays and Sundays, which means the Burnside van won’t have to be available every day — which means, said Fourman, it may stay operational through September. Councilor Jim Rasnick suggest city officials will “learn as we go along” as to what will be the best schedule for service.

The shuttle will be free to users, but that doesn’t mean it can’t generate a little additional revenue. Following Rasnick’s suggestion to put markings on the bus, possibly easily-removable vinyl letters, it was speculated that possibly sponsors could be obtained for the service. Advertising could potentially be placed on the outside of the van — which, Rasnick pointed out, might make the vehicle look a bit like a race car. Fourman said he didn’t see the county having any problem with putting identifying labels on the van.

All five city council members available voted in favor of the shuttle service. Councilor Dic Gaskin was absent.

Said Fourman, “I think (the shuttle) will be a good tool for the people who visit the lake, and will help enhance their experience.”

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