BENTON, Mo. -- Some of the park board members in the community of Perkins want to turn about five acres, known as Perkins Hill, into a park.
However, Scott County, which was deeded the land by F.S. and Della H. Bice in 1924, must first find out what it is legally allowed to do.
The land, which was once the site of the Perkins High School, has been a subject of interest for many years. And on Thursday, park board members Martin Hircock, Will Yates and Susie Menz met with commissioners in regard to a petition submitted asking for the county to deed the park to the not-for-profit group that has yet to be formed.
Over the years, the county commission has been approached regarding selling the land or allowing groups to use it in some way. However, there are gray areas.
"I don't know what we can do," said Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger.
He said that when he first took office in 2001, he was told the county owned the hill. Over the last decade when the county looked into the possibility of selling the land and using proceeds to fix streets in Perkins, he and other officials sought legal advice.
"That came back to say we only had the right to ownership in the event that a park were put on it and open to the people of Scott County," he said.
A brief review by Sikeston, Mo., lawyer Jim Hux read: "It appears there would be a problem with deeding of leasing the park property, even to a not-for-profit corporation. The county can, however, contract for management or other services."
The issue died down until last fall, when the commissioners received a letter from Scott City lawyer Francis Siebert. It asked for a possible partnership with the county and a not-for-profit corporation "whose sole purpose would be to administer the five acres as a park."
Hircock noted the group is waiting to procure its not-for-profit status until an agreement has been reached with the county.
"We don't want to spend a lot of money to get all the legal things done until we know we will move forward," he said.
Commissioner Donnie Kiefer noted the county will also have to spend money "to see what we can legally do."
Burger suggested a town hall meeting be scheduled for all interested parties, including residents in the Perkins community. Menz said she will work to set up a meeting within the next few weeks.
Yates did point out, however, there has been a favorable response to the implementation of the park. "Only 12 or so people did not sign the petition," he said.
Burger also inquired if there is another town organization, such as the fire department, that could work with the parks board to implement and run the park.
Menz said the idea was favorable to her, as it would provide more ideas and individuals involved. Additionally, the partnership would mean there is more stability, in case the parks board were to dissolve someday.
"We really just want to do what's best for Perkins," said Burger, noting the county does not have an opinion in how the park comes about and is cared for, so long as it is legal.
Hincock said, "We're looking for a way to do this, whatever that way is."