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Marion County Park upgrades in the works

Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 at 10:40 am

LACIE SILVA – Editor

Plans for a substantial upgrade to the Marion County Park are underway as Gene Hargis and Darrell Pittman, in a recent proposal, sought approval to advance with the park’s renovation.

The ambitious project outlines a budget of $900,000 spread over a 15-year period, with plans for the city to recoup the costs gradually. Hargis pointed out the urgent need for the upgrade due to increased park usage, requiring updated facilities and amenities to accommodate the swelling demand. The infrastructural improvements aim to address the escalating need for power, prompted by modern technological advancements like air conditioning, wireless internet connections, microwaves, and other electrical draws, which have overloaded the older systems originally designed before such high-energy machinery became commonplace.

A key topic during discussions revolved around the specifics of the loan, both its total sum and the duration. Commissioner Steven Franklin expressed that his understanding was the original amount was supposed to be $750,000 and that the drastic increase needed to be accounted for. There was also discussion between Pittman and the commissioners about the confusion in price over $750,000, $800,000 and the current request for $900,000.

Pittman advised that the original contractor had quoted them at $750,000, however with the inflation of prices in materials and cost of labor, the difference in price is to compensate. He also expressed concerns over potential increases in the costs and emphasizing that any delay in the decision-making process might further inflate the overall expenses.

The debate about the right balance between cost, capacity, and future needs was at the heart of the discussion. Commissioner Franklin emphasized that the proposed plan exclusively addressed half of the park’s facilities. He also noted that, within the next few years, there would be a need to consider upgrading the remaining half of the park.

As these deliberations progress, the final decision on the funding, amount, and repayment terms will significantly shape the trajectory of this much-needed revitalization effort for Marion County Park. The enhancements aim to not only update the aging infrastructure but also cater to the evolving needs of the community. Despite the extensive discussion, the meeting did not result in a decision regarding the park’s loan request.

The Marion Tribune – November 23, 2023