MILTON — The downtown festival grounds are getting some needed renovations before the year's activities begin, according to Public Works Director Joe Cook.

Cook said part of the renovations include making the ground more resilient to rain and creating a retention pond for stormwater runoff.

"It's basically marsh land," he said. "When you have a heavy rain you can't use the ground because you couldn't get people in and out of there."

The project began in January, Cook said, and has to be completed by the end of March in time for the first event planned in April.

Originally, the renovations to the park went out for bids for professional companies but all came back too high, according to Cook.

"The lowest bid we got was for $435,000, I believe," Cook said. "We didn't have that much appropriated in funds to hire it out so we undertook the job."

The city will be able to complete the project, Cook said, for approximately $220,000. He said that with a staff of only three people in Public Works able to work on the project, he is having to manage his department and time appropriately.

"We have had to push some other projects back in order to fit this one into the time frame," he said. "We are going to get it done."

Cook said the project will also benefit the neighboring Blackwater Bistro property. He said they are planning to expand the parking lot, as well as including more handicapped parking and wheelchair ramps.

The festival grounds holds events including movie nights, chili and barbecue cook-offs, and fruit and vegetable weekends.