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Marion plaza project making progress during pandemic

Public renderings should be drawn up and presented this fall

Area on the east side of City Square Park in Marion, Iowa, on Saturday, July 25, 2020. An ice rink could be included in
Area on the east side of City Square Park in Marion, Iowa, on Saturday, July 25, 2020. An ice rink could be included in the update. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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In January, Marion was awarded a $155,000 from the Iowa Great Places Program for the city’s Uptown Plaza project.

The idea of the project has been in the works for a decade and has been tied with the Uptown Streetscape project. The plan is to use the parking lot near City Square Park that was 11th Street as a plaza area and to improve the park overall.

Many ideas are still up in the air for what will be included in the project, including an ice-skating rink, water features, a community garden, a space for performances, new lighting and pavilions and game areas.

What has happened since?

Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce said a steering committee is working on the details, including how to best use the depot pavilion in the park. She said the design team is in the process of digging into the details and the process has not been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s almost been propelled by COVID,” Ackerman said. “It’s really picked up a lot of steam, and there is a lot of interest to get these plans going.”

Ackerman said the plans incorporate new landscaping and public art. She said plans for the ice rink, water features and a community garden are still on the table.

“The committee is continually bringing back images to the group and trying to hone in on exactly what we want,” Ackerman said. “We are probably getting pretty close to having some initial renderings.”

She added that the Iowa Great Places grant deadline is coming up again in November and said the committee would need renderings by that time to make their application stronger.

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Tom Treharne, Marion’s community development director, said the Uptown Plaza project is still estimated to cost between $2 million and $3 million, which will also come down to what areas of Uptown Marion will be “considered plaza.”

Treharne said he thinks there will be specific public information on what’s going to be included in the plaza and renderings sometime in September.

“That’s where we are at right now is trying to put that design together and then take it to the public for review and consideration,” Treharne said. “I just think it’s one of the most exciting projects. It’s been talked about for long periods of time and we’re really excited to get graph representation on a plan that’s been in the works for over 10 years in what we’re trying to create for the community.”

Comments: gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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