MARION — The cities of Center Point and Marion are two of three awarded the 2017 All-Star Community award by the Iowa League of Cities.
The League of Cities’ All-Star Community award is meant to honor local governments for innovative efforts, according to the League of Cities website. Center Point was given the award for the city’s library expansion and new community center. Marion was awarded for the Klopfenstein Amphitheater for the Performing Arts built in Marion’s Lowe Park.
Both cities will be recognized in Davenport at the League’s annual conference Sept. 27-29. The city of Washington was the other municipality to win the award this year.
Award winners were announced earlier this month.
Center Point Library
For Center Point, residents made it clear through a 2010 city survey that they wanted a community center and larger library, said Chelsea Huisman, city administrator. The Center Point Library project began in 2010 when the building behind the city’s former 5,000-square-foot library was listed for sale.
Construction wrapped up in spring 2016 on the 20,000-square-foot facility, which now has a 300-person community center on the lower level and the city’s library on the ground floor.
Huisman said fundraising for the $2.7 million project was expected to take three years, but it took only 18 months. Area businesses and individuals were committed to seeing the project through, especially locals Marilyn and Kenneth Anderson, she said.
“It really was a community effort to get it done,” Huisman said.
She said the city plans to increase advertisements for the community center to those who want to rent it out, though they’ve hosted a few community events already and had graduation parties and a wedding reception in the space.
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The Iowa League of Cities noted Marion’s Klopfenstein Amphitheater as the reason why the city won this year’s award. The amphitheater, completed in 2014, is managed by Marion’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Mike Carolan, parks director, said the idea for the $1.5 million project came out of the city’s 2008-2009 community visioning process, called Imagin8. The venue space was something residents identified as a way to strengthen the community.
And thanks to the George Lowe family, which donated the 180 acres that is now Lowe Park to the city, Marion had a space to build an amphitheater, Carolan said.
“Every community wants to have that identified gathering place for the community and to have that venue ... whether it be musical or theater,” Carolan said. “What a wonderful gift for a family, in an area that was rife for development, to put that aside for a public space — it’s fantastic. When we talk about recreation and culture, Lowe Park — everyone gravitates toward that.”
A canopy of six oak leaves sculpted from Corten steel overhangs the Klopfenstein Amphitheater’s 50-foot stage. Events already held in the space include the group Dueling Pianos, a hypnotist and a magic show.
“This amphitheater is another example of how our city has reached higher to create a venue that is unlike any other,” said Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly, according to a news release. “I commend the Marion Chamber of Commerce, all the donors and community volunteers and our city government for giving our community this amazing gathering space and performance venue.”
Carolan said the All-Star Community award shows how the effort expending for the project continues to pay off.
“In government, we don’t like to brag about ourselves, but to be able to showcase Marion and what we have to offer, it just highlights that we bought the community together,” Carolan said. “Being able to fulfill that need, to receive that award is just the stamp on the overall project.”
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