Government

Linn-Mar, Marion join to build football field, track at Lowe Park

Goal is to have project finished by summer

People listen to a band perform at the amphitheater in Lowe Park in Marion. The park will see an addition of a football field and track next summer in a joint project between the city of Marion and the Linn-Mar school district. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
People listen to a band perform at the amphitheater in Lowe Park in Marion. The park will see an addition of a football field and track next summer in a joint project between the city of Marion and the Linn-Mar school district. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MARION — A practice football field and track will be built at Lowe Park in the spring in a joint project by the city of Marion and the Linn-Mar school district.

The city is setting aside 1.5 acres for the project and will retain ownership of the land. The school district will pay for construction of the sports facilities at the park, 4500 N. 10th St.

The district plans to break ground for the project in the spring, with a summer opening. The track will be available for public use after school hours.

“It’s a big benefit to the public when we can join forces like that and collaborate on projects and not duplicate facilities,” Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said during a city council meeting last week.

The school district has a $300,000 budget for the project, and it will be responsible for maintaining the facility, said Seth Staashelm, Marion deputy parks and rec director.

Staashelm said the facility will open opportunities for more youth programming as well as social walking groups for senior residents.

“I’m sure our recreation staff and coordinators, with this new facility coming online, will have creative ideas on additional programming,” he said.

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The track itself will be a different surface than existing hard surface or rock trails and is “more attractive” surface for walking and running, Staashelm said.

He’s hoping it will catch on with social walking groups to “promote a healthy lifestyle.”

The city entered into an intergovernmental 28(e) agreement with the school district in 2002 when Oak Ridge Middle School, across from Lowe Park at 4901 Alburnett Road was under construction and the city was developing the west side of Lowe Park, parks and rec director Mike Carolan said.

To make room for the project, the city will move a service road that leads to the maintenance building. The road also will be paved.

The parks department is talking with the school district about how to connect the field to the school.

The city also is working on designing a 4-foot fence around the facility to deter vandalism.

Carolan said the park has had some vandalism in the recent past, including two vehicles that drove into the park and got stuck on the flag football field last year. It took almost two weeks to get the vehicles pulled out, he said.

The fence will not be locked, but the city is working on finding a way that will make it feel welcoming, Carolan said.

“How do we accommodate for public use and keep it secure?” he said. “We need to figure out how that flow works so people feel like it’s an area they can use and feel comfortable doing that.”

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The 180-acre Lowe Park is home to many amenities in Marion, including the Klopfenstein Amphitheatre for the Performing Arts, the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center, walking trails, a children’s discovery garden and community gardens, a playground, Iowa State University Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Gardens and eight baseball and softball diamonds.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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