Tribune-Courier News Reporter
The Marshall County Fiscal Court last week returned from executive session to announce that they would begin looking at options during an upcoming budget workshop to acquire 78 acres adjacent to Mike Miller Park to improve its offerings to the county.
County Judge Executive Mike Miller said he expects the Marshall County Park Board will ask the fiscal court to help guarantee a loan for the expansion project.
“The park board has a set amount of money for the project, but then it will take a large amount of funds to develop that land too,” he said. “We don’t know what the complete budget for the project looks like yet. It would have to be in the form of a loan repayment because I don’t see the fiscal court having hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in this project out of this year’s budget or the next year’s budget. If we’re looking long term maybe there’s more we could do.”
Miller said the fiscal court and park board began discussing the possibility of expansion because of a need for a central location for the county fair.
“We’re very grateful to the city of Benton for letting us use H.H. Lovett Park but we run into the problems of limited space and limited parking,” he said. “We’ve been looking at a site for a fairground complete with grandstands and the ability to hold the county fair.”
Marshall County Park Board Chairman Danny Nelson said the 78 acres could be used for a variety of reasons, but one of the first projects being discussed is the fairground. Others include an amphitheater, another lake, more baseball fields, biking trails and a 5K course. He said if the land were purchased Mike Miller Park would be almost doubling its size and could be potentially doubling what it could offer the county.
“Our intentions are to do a poll or survey to find out what our county really wants,” he said. “Everything is in very early stages now and nothing has been signed, but we realized that if we were ever going to expand we needed to get the land now while we could even if we might have to wait a while before we can develop it all.”
The fiscal court will continue preliminary discussions on the expansion project at their budget workshop meeting at 1 p.m. on May 19.