Carthage's beautiful and historic Central Park has looked like a construction site for the past few weeks, and that's because it is a construction site.

Carthage's beautiful and historic Central Park has looked like a construction site for the past few weeks, and that's because it is a construction site.
Between them, the city of Carthage and Carthage Water & Electric Plant are spending more than $160,000 this winter on upgrades to the parks lighting, electrical service, water and sewer service and sidewalks in the most comprehensive set of improvements to a city park in many years.
Carthage Parks Director Alan Bull says the results will be much improved lighting throughout the park, upgraded and renovated restrooms at the Central Park wading pool and improved and safer electrical service for the growing number of events being held in the park.
He said it's a much needed upgraded to a park that's seen a big jump in usage, especially with the start two years ago of the monthly Food Truck Friday events, which bring a variety of food trucks to the park, feeding thousands of people at these day-long events every second Friday of the month, April through September.
The first Food Truck Friday of 2018 is slated for Friday, April 13.

City costs
Bull said the city has several separate budgeted $69,000 for lighting, utility and restroom upgrades and $43,000 for new concrete on some of the sidewalks in the park.
“It's going to be a new park,” Bull said. “We're updating the lights completely, we are updating the restrooms completely, we are updating the electrical service completely, the sewer lines and water lines completely. It's going to be good.”
• Of the $69,000, $38,500 is the city's share of the costs of new light poles and lights along the paths in the park.
These poles and lights will match the light poles and lights on the Carthage Square and on the new Missouri Highway 96 bridge over the railroad tracks on the east side of town.
The city is splitting the costs of the lights with CW&EP.
• Bull said in addition, the city has budgeted $16,000 for other lighting and electrical upgrades.
This amount is paying for upgrades to the lights in the bandstand in the middle of the park, upgraded electrical service to the buildings at the wading pool, new lights and electrical service to the smaller picnic shelter and a new LED light to shine on the Marlin Perkins statue on the west side of the park.
• Bull said another $14,500 is budgeted for improvements to the restrooms in Central Park and at the wading pool.
This includes new fixtures, new lights and other improvements.
“We're putting an epoxy floor down, new sewer line, new water line, all kinds of stuff to the Central Park restrooms,” Bull said. “We're going to re-pour the concrete in the smaller shelter, it had a huge crack in it and it needed replacing. We're also redoing the restroom on the pool side. It was awful. I didn't realize how bad it was, and we completely redid that.
“We tore out all the ceiling and walls and put in a new toilet. The Y purchased a baby changing station that we mounted on the wall. We painted the floor with an epoxy paint. We put in an LED light. It's way better than it was.”

CW&EP Costs
Carthage Water & Electric General Manager Chuck Bryant said the utility is spending about $60,000 on its share of the new lights, and new temporary electrical vaults to provide better electrical service throughout the park.
“Over the years, the park has been used more, and rightly so,” Bryant said. “We're happy it get used for more and more events and more diverse types of events, but we've always had a hard time getting power to where people need it in the park, so we've taken this opportunity as the lighting and new wiring needed to go in for lights and we've taken that opportunity to put in some new temporary service options around the park.”
Bryant said the new temporary service boxes will provide added safety as well as convenience. When electrical service is needed in a part of the park, a CW&EP worker only has to plug the service into the temporary vaults and turn on the power. In the past, lines were draped through trees to provide service to different parts of the park.
“We're putting in more service boxes, especially on that north side where Food Truck Friday is concentrated,” Bryant said. “There's a safety aspect to this entire project, over the years, we've just put lines down and tried to cover up lines as best we could. This will provide a much safer environment, plus better access to what we can provide. We're pretty excited we're able to do all this and get it done in coordination with the city.”

New sidewalks
In another upgrade that still must be approved by the Carthage City Council, Bull said the city plans to spend about $43,000 to replace the asphalt sidewalks throughout the park with concrete.
He said the city opened the first bids earlier in February and the low bid came in lower than expected, meaning the city can replace more asphalt than planned this year.
However, it won't be replacing all the sidewalks this year.
“The first contract will replace the walkway by the playground on the northeast part of the park,  because that's the worst section of sidewalk,” Bull said. “I had planned the sidewalk replacement in a four-year program because it's kind of expensive, but my committee and the mayor had thought we just need to get it done if we're going to do it, so I've got it in next year's capital plan to replace all the rest of the asphalt with concrete.”
Bull said the City Council Public Service Committee will look at the bids at its regular meeting on Monday March 5 and likely make a recommendation to the Carthage City Council.