116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion City Council on Thursday unanimously approved allocating a little more than $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding toward sanitary sewer and water infrastructure projects.
In total, Marion received $6 million in its share of the nationwide total of $1.9 trillion in ARPA funds. ARPA, signed into law last year by President Joe Biden, provides $350 billion in assistance for state and local governments to meet pandemic response needs.
A little more than $3.5 million will go toward the Marion sanitary sewer projects, while $600,000 will go toward water infrastructure improvements.
In 2020, the city had HDR Engineering study the entire sanitary sewer infrastructure to determine shortfalls and look at capacity concerns for future growth.
HDR listed “high priority” projects, and the infrastructure piece of Marion’s ARPA allocations will be applied there.
The high-priority areas include near the Indian Creek basin on the north side of the city and near Highway 100 around the Wanatee Creek basin on the south edge, as well as looking at older parts of the city.
“We’re looking at capacity where HDR identified there were issues. We have too much flow and our current pipes can’t handle it,” said Michael Barkalow, city engineer.
“Also, a lot of old parts of town have clay pipes, and we do around $200,000 of split lining a year where now we will put over $1 million in. It’s good progress. It doesn’t fix it all, but it’s a step in the correct direction.”
During the first round of the joint Linn County/Cedar Rapids funding portal, Marion applied to receive funding for these projects, but they were not awarded. City Manager Ryan Waller said the city had decided to move forward on the projects with its own ARPA funds since they are high on the to-do list.
Outside infrastructure, the city had previously been presented with a plan for community project funding for the rest of the ARPA funding, including $1.1 million toward housing assistance. But that portion of the ARPA funds has not yet been formally approved by the council. Staff presented the funding plan earlier this year.
More than half of the housing funds, or $565,000, would be used in assistance for land acquisition to support low- and moderate-income families. The city owns property in the central corridor of Marion, which was acquired to complete the Sixth Avenue road project. The dollars would be used to assist with acquiring adjacent parcels to create an affordable-housing development.
In addition, $325,000 would go toward creating a home rehabilitation program to assist Marion homeowners with rehabbing homes near or close to Uptown Marion.
And $50,000 would go toward a match program for housing rehabilitation. The Housing Fund for Linn County has applied to Linn County to create its own housing rehab program for 20 homeowners countywide, excluding Cedar Rapids.
Also, $60,000 would be used to create an immediate assistance housing program for homeowners experiencing difficulties making necessary repairs. The program also would be administered by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments.
Lastly for housing, another $100,000 could be used to scale up the city’s Community Build partnership, with students from local schools remodeling and selling houses. According to the plan draft, the investment would allow the program to deliver two affordable housing units to the community each year and could potentially expand the program’s partners.
The city has already approved $450,000 to go toward helping local industry and workforce in the form of Business Innovation and Support Grants.
Grants, up to $15,000 that come with business counseling, will be given out to dozens of local businesses, according to the planning document. All awarded businesses will be required to remain in Marion for two years or repay the awarded grant funds.
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