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Milton Park an effort of community volunteers

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Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community. They are often a major factor in the perception of quality of life in our communities. Parks and recreation services are often cited as one of the most important factors in how livable communities are. Parks provide gathering places for families and social groups. Individuals of all ages and economic status, regardless of their ability to pay for access, can benefit from parks. But many residents are not aware of just how many park amenities are available to them in Morgan County. To raise awareness, The Morgan County News has partnered with the Morgan County Park Board members to provide information about each park in the county and highlight their unique facilities. Lyletta Searle is the board member responsible for the Milton Park, but she is relatively new to the post. For years the park was maintained through volunteer efforts. Dale and Barbara Thurston and family spent much of their free time making sure this beautiful land was kept in shape for the entire community. The family used their own water shares and replaced at least five lawnmowers over the years caring for the park. Barbara commented that mowing that much grass over almost a 50-year time span kept her in shape and prolonged her youth. Dale was always out raking up the tall grass. I even saw him bale it once, said Lyletta Searle proudly. The Thurstons enjoyed providing this service that all started just because they wanted a place for their community to enjoy. Barbara said, Every tree planted here is a part of my memories. I love every one of them. Her love for the park was evident in every explanation. In recent years, Morgan County has taken over the maintenance of this park. However, because of budget constraints, donations and Eagle Scout projects also roll in from time to time to make sure this park remains a safe and functional place to get out and enjoy outdoor activities. The railing that separates the parking area from the actual park was taken off the highway when the railing was upgraded. The original chain link fence that bordered the park was also donated by the State of Utah after a freeway renovation. This fence was updated by Brayden Stegelmeier and Miles Mecham for their Eagle Scout project. The pair replaced the horse arena fence in 2012. This arena is used by the entire northwestern area of the Morgan Valley, especially by 4-H horse enthusiasts, and is the only arena in Morgan County that the public can use free of charge. A lot of people use it, Mecham said. It was a pretty beat-up, old arena. Now the arena is full almost every night. There are usually clubs here using the facility, but I have even seen couples come out for a romantic moonlit ride and it is lovely, commented Searle. The park started out as just a big grassy area and developed over the years. A fence was put in around a playground area several years ago, but park officials were notified that some of the equipment does not meet current safety codes and must be replaced. You can’t just go buy playground equipment at Wal-mart and put it up anymore, Searle said. The structures have to be of certain quality to pass safety inspections and those pieces don’t come cheap. In 2013, the park board members asked the county for $10,000 for improved equipment and were awarded $4,000. Unfortunately, you can’t even purchase a small set for that amount, said Searle. The money cannot carry over, so it was lost. Barbara said she would love to see that policy changed. If there is a project that needs to be done, but they aren’t ever going to donate enough to do it, you should be able to save for it, proposed Barbara. The restrooms were added with grant money and the attached drinking fountain was generously donated through another Eagle Scout project. The sidewalk that leads from the parking space to the facilities was put in so that the handicapped accessible restroom could be accessed from the parking area. The bowery was accomplished in two phases and was funded in part by the county but also included funds raised by the community. The original bowery was so widely used, an expansion was deemed necessary. When the second piece of the bowery was added, they included a kitchen and an equipment/supply room. The bowery can be reserved by anyone for a small fee. The kitchen was put in without running water because once that is in place, the health department requires that someone with a current food handlers permit be present at all times. This creates a burden for smaller groups so that feature was left out. The kitchen does include a refrigerator and microwave. The cabinets that are currently being used in this facility were donated by Morgan Elementary School while it was undergoing renovations. They were just going to throw the cabinets out so we figured we could put them to better use, they even installed them for us, said Searle. Adjacent to the bowery there is a cement slab that can house table top grills and the like that was put together by Weber/Davis Applied Technology students as a part of their service project requirement. Around six students came up and installed this for us in the cold weather and still had it done in just a few weeks, stated Searle. The basketball court on the premises stands in desperate need of updating. Eagle Scout candidates in need of a project to work on are welcome to contact Searle or County Facilities Director Mike Waite if they would like to take this project on. In fact there are many small projects that the park stands in need of if any energetic youth are willing. A beautiful new firepit with colorful benches surrounding it sits adjacent to the bowery and makes a great spot for s’mores and campfire stories. Milton Park is nested on 1165 North Morgan Valley Drive. Users are responsible for all clean-up and trash removal. Reservations can be made online at www.morgan-county.net, but there are still bugs that are being worked out. The best way to reserve your spot is to call Barbara Thurston at 801-829-3710.

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