116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The city of Marion and the Chamber of Commerce are offering a survey to residents to give feedback and direction on the Creekside Pride initiative, a plan to make Indian Creek more accessible for recreational opportunities.
The survey is available at https://tinyurl.com/IndianCreekSurvey until Feb. 4.
The initiative is part of a long-term project known as ImagiNEXT. In 2017, the Marion Chamber began the “community-wide visioning process” and received over 3,000 ideas. Creekside Pride was one of the final ideas that emerged.
In December 2020, the city received $40,000 from the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization to fund a master-planning study for the Indian, Dry and Wanatee Creek corridors to attract more funding for recreational access. The city has hired ISG to complete the study.
Marion Chamber President Jill Ackerman, City Council member Will Brandt and Water Department General Manager Todd Steigerwaldt sat down with The Gazette recently to talk about the project.
Q: How did the ImagiNext process start?
A: Ackerman: We rolled it out in 2017, gathered all the ideas and narrowed them down. Creekside Pride was focused on recognizing Indian Creek as an amenity: recreational trails, kayak stations, signage for educational purposes all along the creek. There’s about 10 of us on this committee including me, Todd and Will.
Q: What is the end goal for Creekside Pride? What will it look like when complete?
A: Brandt: Creekside Pride was the second-most popular idea behind a new pool. The overall goal is to really utilize this creek and make it something that is not just going through our town.
A: Steigerwaldt: Going back even farther, there’s the Indian Creek watershed plan talking about water health and amenities that can be done, and some of those fall into this project. Marion has a great potential to use an underserved drainage ditch, and with some elbow grease and creativity, we can turn it into something great.
Q: How much of Indian Creek is included with this project?
A: Steigerwaldt: All of Indian Creek is included throughout Marion. There are nine potential locations along the creek identified for projects. We saw Des Moines’ master plan showing us how this is being done elsewhere, and we will now have our own document with preliminary cost estimates and road maps. Hopefully we will have this done this summer, and those projects will be decided by the survey.
A: Ackerman: Different spots of the creek get wider, and you can see the potential of these different spots along the way.
Q: Can you explain what improving water quality means for Indian Creek and how you can actually go about doing that?
A: Steigerwaldt: This project with ImagiNEXT will not improve water quality. That is more of what the Indian Creek Watershed project talks about. But people want clean water, and they want to do activities along clean water. Step one is you make them aware and get them down to the source. This project isn’t going to clean up the water, but it will make them aware of the quality challenges locally and statewide.
Q: What kind of recreational opportunities are we talking about with Indian Creek?
A: Steigerwaldt: Paddling like canoeing, kayaking, floating, just walking the creek, fishing, trails along the creek and more trails in the works, educational opportunities with signage about wetlands and trees.
A: Ackerman: Putting in limestone kayak stations and stepping walls to get down into the creek … it's hard to get in and out of right now. In certain places, there are high embankments … It will be a visual cue for people that this will be an opportunity to get in. We will build some parking so people can access it easier. In a lot of places, the city owns the property, but some people are unsure if they are supposed to be there, but they can be.
A: Brandt: Me wanting to be on this committee stems from when I was a kid, I grew up in the creek. We waded and tubed with massive tractor tires. I want to see future generations use the creek.
Q: What are you hoping to gain from the community input piece of this? What type of feedback are you looking for?
A: Ackerman: The community already gave their input when we started collecting ideas. On one hand we're sort of verifying that we're on the right track. But now we're getting into the details.
A: Steigerwaldt: They’ll finish the survey and collect data, they will share results and incorporate those results into the master plan, and the next step is funding.
A: Ackerman: That’s what it boils down to. There’s a lot of great ideas out there. There’s a master plan in place to ensure the vision and make grant writing easier … That makes the funding piece easier.
A: Brandt: We’re doing the budget right now … it will be slow going for a while unless a major grant pops up and we have our document in place.
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