If Marion receives a grant from Kansas Department of Transportation for a planned downtown revitalization project, it will have Central Park and all of the events held there to thank for it.
KDOT representative Scott Shields reviewed Marion’s grant application Thursday in front of a crowd of about 80 supporters, and he commented that Central Park’s proximity to downtown is a unique and beneficial feature.
He also asked about the annual events at the park and downtown, including Chingawassa Days, Art in the Park, and Old Settlers’ Day. When told that Chingawassa Days attracted an estimated 5,000 people to the park last year, Shields whistled as if impressed.
The grant application showed the downtown revitalization plan as a $1.2 million project, for which the city requested $950,000. Shields said it is one of 17 applications in its category.
Because of the number of applications, KDOT might award a smaller grant, Shields said. Engineer Darin Neufeld of EBH & Associates said the project could be done in phases if the city received a smaller grant, but the city would likely apply for another grant to finish the project in the future.
Shields asked how involved the community had been in the project and how supportive it had been, noting the turnout for the meeting. The plan originated with Marion Pride, which then got the city involved because the grant requires a government entity to apply for it.
The application packet included several Marion County Record articles and letters from community groups, the school board, and St. Luke Hospital. Neufeld said there were 40 more letters that were left out of the application packet so it would fit.
After the meeting, Shields, Neufeld, and others toured the area where the project would take place, mostly Main St. between Elm and Walnut Sts.