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Park renovations slowed by grant requirements

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

Plans to use grant money for the outdoor horse riding arena at Carson Park are stalled until federal grant requirements are met.

Carson Park Board Chairman Randy Wiersma updated the McCracken County Fiscal Court on renovation plans for the park, which is located on Joe Clifton Drive and home to the McCracken County Fair.

The park board received one $200,000 matching grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which means the county will pay $100,000 of the project costs. The board is unable to receive the grant funds, though, until it creates certain restrictions for the area the money will be used to renovate.

In 2013, the Carson Park Board requested the county match federal grant funding to move forward with plans to build an equestrian trail along the perimeter of the park and restore the existing outdoor arena.

While the park was awarded the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to update the arena, it did not qualify for a $200,000 matching grant from the Recreational Trails Program for the equestrian trail project. Thus, the trail plans have been put on hold.

The board hopes to receive the grant funding for the arena if it meets the October deadline for restrictions. The money will go toward demolishing the existing fencing, replacing the soil and building a new drainage system, Wiersma said.

The park cannot receive the federal dollars until certain restrictions are placed around the 25-acre portion of the park tract that encompasses the arena area. The restrictions would dictate that the area could be used only for horse riding facilities and must be open to the public.

If the county commits to the restrictions but doesn't meet them, the property would revert to the Easter Seals of West Kentucky as a result of language stipulated in the deed when the Carson family donated the property to the county in 1937.

County Attorney Mike Murphy said the Fiscal Court will be updated after a private attorney advises how to address the restrictions.

The park board had previously slated both the trails and arena renovation projects for completion by this summer before learning about the grant complications.

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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