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Park may be first step in improving Marion

Staff writer

The Marion PRIDE committee collaborated to write a wish list of Marion projects at its last meeting Sept. 12, using the recommendations from surveys sent out this summer, PRIDE member Pam Bowers said.

The first two items on the list dealt with Central Park: new restrooms at the park and a new hiking trail.

The first item is already being addressed by the Park Board, which requested permission to start raising funds for a new gazebo for the park at the last Marion City Council meeting

“That all started with an alumnus who wanted to donate money,” Bowers said. “Margo Yates gave a list of suggestions and when the park came up she latched on to it.”

The second item came directly from a survey suggestion. Other suggestions for park and recreation areas included in a report written by Sally Hannaford were refurbishing tennis and basketball courts, improving bike trails, adding more flowers and plantings, repainting fountain basins in the park, cleaning Luta Creek and adding a fishing dock, adding walking trails and paddle boat possibilities, repairing and maintaining nature trails in the park, paving or maintaining roadway in the park, planting a community garden, and painting light poles.

Hannaford said PRIDE’s first approach would be an attempt to establish a volunteer force, raising funds and acquiring grants for projects could be difficult, she said.

“Many of the suggestions come without large dollars,” she said. “Some of the clubs could do projects. Once people see something happening, people have a tendency to get more involved. There are projects some people are interested in and some where they aren’t. Find what your interest is in.”

Hannaford said the park is definitely a point of interest for the community. While there were definite suggestions from citizens, she said that the response for parks was overwhelmingly positive.

“Parks were described as ‘wonderful, well kept, and inviting,’” Hannaford wrote. “‘Our town is known for its park,’ one survey replied.”

One suggestion for the park included forming a volunteer group that could do the general upkeep in the park. The suggested name was “The Soil Brothers and Sisters.”

Hannaford and Bowers said Marion parks are one area where the fix is easier, paint and some planters could make a big difference. The next items on the wish list are improving downtown and entrances in Marion. PRIDE is working with Evans, Bierly Hutchinson, and Associates engineer Darin Neufeld to acquire a grant to fix light poles, curbs, and other pieces of public property downtown.

The PRIDE committee offered its thanks to vendors at the farm and art market, started this past year on Wednesdays during the spring and summer. The market is currently closed for the year.

The entrances question from the survey is more difficult because the property around the entrances to Marion is privately owned. Hannaford said an effort like Spruce Up Marion could be used to cleanup such properties.

Hannaford said her major interest is improving the appearance of downtown Marion. She said she went to a town along the Kansas-Nebraska border that had done more for its downtown than Marion with fewer resources.

“I could see the pride in it,” Hannaford said. “What is the difference in a personality of a town?”

Last modified Sept. 22, 2011

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