The Marshall County Children’s Art Center began creating an interactive green space on its facility’s lawn last summer. This project is designed to directly benefit the community by providing a beautiful outdoor space to educate and entertain children and adults. It is progressing well, despite delays due to Covid-19 and the tornado, and Phases I and II are nearly complete. The project is currently waiting for the contractors to lay the topsoil and grass, and then they plan to start Phase III.
Phase I includes a decorative walking path surrounded by a lush flower garden and several trees, extending west from the corner of Elm and 12th streets with a plan to connect this path to a trail that will be included in stage III. Phase I includes the placement of three interactive panels, the first node describing the history and significance of this site to the Morgan and Brandon families, who once owned the property and who have generously donated for its improvement through the outdoor space. This area will also include a concrete bench and screen to contribute to the aesthetics of the area.
In phase II, the second and third historical nodes of the panel will be created; one for the history of the town of Benton and the other for the development of the site. Phase II includes a pathway that loops around the existing rain garden, which they plan to upgrade, and leads to a gazebo adjacent to a retaining wall, connected to 12th Street. There has been a sculpture erected in the seating area of a young boy flying a toy plane, and there is another sculpture soon to be built as well.
Construction of Phase III will begin soon. The focal point is a covered outdoor learning center that will comfortably accommodate 25-30 students and will also be used by the nearby library, reinforcing its importance and usefulness in the community.
The outdoor space is expected to be completed by late spring. Ruth Morris, executive director, said the Marshall County Art Center plans to hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony in May to welcome and thank the community for all their help. “It should be pretty nice with lots of flowers/plants in bloom by then,” Morris said. She encourages the community to attend the ribbon cutting and visit the outdoor space in due time.