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By Echo Menges
The Scotland County Commission expects to take over the Smith Memorial Roadside Park rest stop area on or around July 1, 2023. The roadside park is located on Highway 136 east of Arbela.
The Commission will sublease the grounds from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), which holds a 99 year lease on the property. The owner of the property Terry Smith reportedly wants to see the roadside park officially reopened.
“The park was officially closed in 2020,” said David Wiggins, Western District Commissioner.
“Since they locked everything down, people just kept moving the pylons and using it anyway,” said Brent Rockhold, Eastern District Commissioner.
Like nearly all of the state highways in the region, there is nowhere to pull over, and no shoulders on that stretch of highway. The Commission hopes reopening the park and slowly improving it will benefit the community.
The Commission also wants to keep the Scotland County history sign, which is located at the park, in place.
“We don’t want to move it,” said Duane Ebeling, Presiding Commissioner.
Local volunteers have already replaced several rotted boards on picnic tables at the park, and the Commission has plans to seek grant funding from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to eventually replace them.
Volunteers will continue to be relied upon for maintenance and trash collection. No money has been budgeted by the Commission to maintain the park in 2023.
“There will be some cost – insurance, blading snow, and signage,” said Wiggins.
“(MoDOT) has agreed to put some rock out there, too,” said Ebeling.
There are no restroom facilities at the park, and the Commission does not have plans to try to build any.