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Park, farmers market coming to Benton

The Town of Benton has signed a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Bossier Parish School Board to allow the town to construct a multi-purpose recreational facility.

Plans for the 3.67 acres of land include a children’s playground area, a parking lot, restroom facilities and a designated area for the town’s upcoming seasonal farmer’s market. Mayor Wayne Cathcart said the park’s location on Simpson Street, behind the old high school gymnasium, is ideal because of its access points from Highway 3 and Highway 162.

“We now have land to use for something that will benefit the people in our town and the surrounding area,” he said. “This is not just a park for Benton. It will be a contribution from the town, school system and local government agencies to the entire community.”

The idea for a farmer’s market has swirled through town for a while now. However, there was never any certainty as to whether or not people would actually be interested in one.

Then, a fan page for the market popped up on a popular social media website and was an instant hit, doubling in size overnight and still growing.

The farmer’s market is scheduled to open June 1 and run every Sunday from 12:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. through July 27. The farmer’s market committee said it will be a community based market, created to provide healthy, locally grown produce and to promote gardening, farming and production of agricultural goods.

The playground equipment has already been purchased, Cathcart said, and a swing set purchased by Benton Rotary Club will also be installed on the property. The first step, however, will be constructing the parking lot and the restroom facility.

Future plans for the park, pending approval and funding, include a pavilion, barbecue pits, picnic tables, a walking trail and a spray park, similar to that on Old Brownlee Road.

“We are developing a park that will be a safe, family oriented destination for families to enjoy,” Cathcart added. “By providing an infrastructure in the form of a recreational facility, we are improving the lifestyle for all of our citizens.”

He also praised the team effort it took to get this project going, personally thanking Bossier Superintendent D.C. Machen, the Bossier School Board, Keith Norwood, Supervisor of Planning and Construction for Bossier Schools, the Bossier Parish Police Jury and the Benton Town Council for their support.

“It’s amazing to see how everyone works together,” Cathcart said. “All you have to do is ask and people are willing to offer assistance. It’s wonderful that we have those kinds of relationships. That’s a fact.”

The farmer’s market committee is currently seeking vendors from the Louisiana, East Texas and southern Arkansas regions to fill booth space for the summer market. Rules, regulations and applications will be available in the coming weeks on their website, www.bentonlafarmersmarket.com.

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