City takes ownership of ‘Merrill Festival Grounds’
Lincoln County transferred ownership of the former Lincoln County Fairgrounds to the city of Merrill Thursday morning. The transfer of ownership was followed Thursday afternoon by a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new grandstand structure at the newly-christened Merrill Festival Grounds.
The city sought bids and selected a contractor ahead of the official property transfer.
The 3,000-seat grandstand will be constructed by Dant Clayton Corporation of Kentucky. Dant Clayton was the low bidder on the project at $1,149,000. The city will receive $1.2 million from the county, which was the insurance payout after the grandstand was damaged by a storm in 2012. The new grandstand will feature a combination of stadium and bleacher seating.
The concrete work for the new grandstand, which will be sited slightly to the west of the former grandstand, is slated to be completed this fall. The grandstand components will be constructed in Dant Clayton’s shop in Louisville over the winter. The city is anticipating the completion of the structure by Memorial Day 2016.
Along with the new grandstand, the wheels are in motion for other improvements at the festival grounds. Habitat for Humanity volunteers will be refurbishing the cattle barn by removing the rotted boards and repainting.
Work will also begin soon on burying the overhead power lines on the east end of the property and upgrading the electrical system for the new grandstand.
Mayor Bill Bialecki said future plans include assembling a new board to manage the Merrill Festival Grounds.