116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Marion will receive $3 million of federal American Rescue Plan funds allocated by the state toward its Central Plaza project in City Square Park.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office announced the Destination Iowa grant funding Tuesday, with the Marion project being one of three to receive funds in this round of allocations, which includes $12.5 million to the city of Dyersville toward a planned baseball stadium on the “Field of Dreams” movie site.
The Central Plaza at City Square Park in the heart of Uptown Marion has been in the works since the city’s visioning process was done in 2018. The project is expected to begin after the Uptown Marion Seventh Avenue streetscape project and North Plaza on 11th Street, which is expected to be completed this year.
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said the city is “thrilled.”
“We view it as an endorsement of our leading role in creating great places that make Marion and our region desirable destinations for people and businesses,” AbouAssaly said. “The Central Plaza will be another point of pride and a testament to what a community can accomplish when we believe more in our own potential and reach higher together to achieve amazing things.”
The park's redesign includes an area that can be transformed into an ice-skating rink during the winter; an artistic “Peace Tree” to be the city’s holiday centerpiece; flexible outdoor seating, water features, play structure, event stage and space for festival and market tents. The park’s historic train depot that has become a central piece of Uptown Marion also may see some upgrades, including a potential warming house during the winter, restrooms and mechanical rooms for the various water features.
City Manager Ryan Waller said getting the award doesn’t change the project timeline. He said that bidding will happen at the end of this year or early next year and then construction should begin in the spring or early summer of next year.
“The timeline stays the same because everything has synced up nicely,” he said. “Timing couldn’t be any more perfect for us.”
The award represents 40 percent of the total project investment of $9,014,000, according to the state’s news release.
The city sought $3.5 million overall to also help with a CeMar Trail project, but was not awarded that portion of the funding request.
Last month, Linn and Black Hawk counties received $3.5 million of federal American Rescue Plan funds allocated by the state to finish paving the last 16 miles of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail that runs between Evansdale and Hiawatha.
This summer, city of Cedar Rapids decreased its request for a share of $100 million in state-awarded federal funds from $27 million to $8.4 million in an effort to enhance outdoor recreation around the greenway along the Cedar River in Czech Village and New Bohemia.
So far, the state has not announced any funds for Cedar Rapids.
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