116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Plans for upgrades to Marion’s City Square Park have been in the works for the last couple of years.
Earlier this fall, the city received a Destination Iowa grant from the state, created from federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. The grant is worth $3 million.
The Central Plaza upgrade has been on the city’s wish list since Marion’s visioning process in 2018. Upgrading the plaza, with an ice ring included, would cost around $6.6 million.
However, the upgrades may require moving the bright, orange caboose that sits in the southeast corner of the park, next to the train depot.
What’s happened since?
The Marion City Council will decide in the coming months whether to include the City Square Park caboose in a new “pocket park” along the Grant Wood Trail.
The location would be across from the American Legion Hall, adjacent to 31st Street, right along the trail. The city already owns the land in that spot.
“The caboose is not part of the new plaza project in Uptown,” Parks and Recreation Director Seth Staashelm said. “But it hasn’t been finalized to be moved. What we want to do is create a park centered around the caboose and the history of the railway through Marion.”
Staashelm said he would love to see enhanced landscaping and seating as well as signs explaining the history of the railroad through Marion.
“I want it to be another landmark along the trail,” Staashelm said. “We already have Waldo’s Rock Park, Uptown Marion and Thomas Park along there. There are many great spots, and it’s a great trail next to hotels and businesses.”
Staashelm said the parks department is hoping to get started on some specific concepts soon. But the overall timeline for the new park and the caboose move would be dependent on the Central Plaza construction in Uptown.
“That in theory, would determine when the caboose is relocated next year,” he said. “But moving a caboose won’t be as hard as you think. We will move it very carefully.”
Cost estimates for the new park are not yet available, Staashelm said. He said once a concept plan is approved, the budget would be built off that plan, and a subcommittee would be formed with input from community members.
“That’s all down the road still,” he said. “This is a project that will have community feedback and one that will be vetted through City Council.”
The former Marion Depot Pride committee donated the caboose in 1992. The caboose was painted by volunteers in 1997 to look like a car from the Milwaukee Railroad.
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