A new handicap-accessible playground will be installed at the Locust Grove Recreation Center following approval this week by the Henry County Board of Commissioners. The recreation center, located along highway 42 in downtown Locust Grove, was the original home of Locust Grove First Baptist Church, but purchased by the county in 2008.
The new playground will be purchased from and installed by Miracle Recreation of Monett, MO via a national purchasing contract. The $139,861.62 purchase will be funded through parks & recreation impact fees.
Wave of new park improvements following change to Impact Fees program
Henry County commissioners approved changes to the impact fee program in February 2019, allowing accrued parks and recreation impact fees to be spent on park improvements. Previously, the funds could only be spent on retiring debt from the county’s purchase of Nash Farm.
Since that time, commissioners have approved several park improvements using the funds. These included a new putting green at Village Park in Fairview ($145,000.00), purchasing audio / visual equipment to convert the activity barn at Nash Farm into a cultural art center and flex space theater ($94,250.73), and a mobile stage ($94,075.00). In total, impact fee expenditures for the year equal $473,187.35.
According to Henry County’s annual update of the Capital Improvement Elements plan, most recently completed for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the parks and recreation impact fee account had a balance of $2,076,229.83. Note that this year’s expenditures will be deducted from that amount in the next annual update.
Other park improvements on the horizon, expected to be funded via impact fees, include a walking trail connecting Warren Holder Park, the Locust Grove Event Center, and the pond adjacent to the Locust Grove public works facility; a new softball field at Sandy Ridge Park, and sidewalks at North Ola Park.