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Marion is experiencing great momentum. Here's a look at the highlights from 2017. City of Marion, Iowa -

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Published by City of Marion, 2018-02-01 14:05:28

City of Marion Annual Report

Marion is experiencing great momentum. Here's a look at the highlights from 2017. City of Marion, Iowa -



City of Marion
Annual Report


Dear Friends,
On behalf of the Marion City Council, more than 200 city employees,
and all our community partners, I am pleased to present this Annual
Report for the 2017 calendar year. Marion is building tremendous
forward momentum as we work to accommodate our fast growing
population and provide residents with an unequalled quality of life.
Marion continues to reach higher and create an exceptional
environment for people and businesses. The unprecedented growth
in residential and commercial development is providing greater
opportunities for people to achieve their goals in business and in life.
I am also inspired by the ways our community has been energized
for good. Marion residents are more enthusiastic about their city’s
potential and engaged in shaping its future. As a community we are
collaborating in amazing ways to increase opportunity and serve the
needs of all residents. These are just some reasons why I believe wholly
in Marion’s potential to be the best place in Iowa to raise a family
and grow a business.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Annual Report.
I hope you’ll agree that in Marion the sky is NOT the limit.
Let’s continue reaching higher, together.

Nicolas AbouAssaly
marionmayor (at)

Randy Strnad Kim Etzel
Steve Jensen
At Large Ward 1
marionatlarge1(at) ward1 (at) Ward 2
ward2 (at)



SQ2uu0al1irty7voefNLyiafeRtiineoMsnaurailotnlsCitizen Marion’s

93% 90% 92% 91% > Become Zero Waste and
Rated Rated Would Plan to Energy Independent
Marion Marion recommend remain in
a desirable a desirable Marion for > Lead Planned Growth
place to live place to raise living in the next (use community studies/
Marion to five years data to target resources
children someone as Marion grows)
who asks
> Redevelop the Central
Corridor into a Vibrant

Last spring, the City of Marion contracted with National Research Center, Inc. City Center
to conduct The National Citizen Survey™. The survey captured opinions of a
representative sample selected from 1,500 residents of Marion. > Implement Higher
Design Standards for
“These survey results help tell a powerful story. They reinforce Marion’s status new construction and
as a desirable place to live and raise a family, and shine a light on the quality of redevelopment projects
life we enjoy,” noted Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. “Through a holistic look in Marion

at the community, the survey also identified some priorities to enhance life in > Improve the Transpor-
Marion — such as redevelopment of our Central Corridor and improving our tation System, including
public transit options.” the comprehensive trail
system, bus services
Respondents identified safety and the economy as two areas of focus for the and bike lanes
community in the coming two years. The current strategic priorities of the City

MOMENTUMCouncil also received favorable response.
Will Brandt Rene Gadelha Paul Draper
Ward 3
ward3 (at) Ward 4 At Large
ward4 (at) marionatlarge2 (at)

Economic Leveraging Partnerships
Marion’s investment in public infrastructure has resulted in numerous
The City of Marion is development projects throughout Marion. These projects are exceeding
fortunate to collaborate development requirements and creating an attractive business environment.
with three economic devel- In addition to providing employment opportunities, they increase the tax
opment partners focused base for both the City and School Districts, who otherwise rely heavily
on making Marion the best on residential development.
place in Iowa to raise a
family and grow a business. One tool the City of Marion uses to fund major developments is
Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF incentives are financed through new
BY THE NUMBERS: property taxes that are generated by the development; current public funds
are not used to finance the TIF incentive. An estimate is provided in the
MEDCO development agreement, but the actual TIF award is determined by the
assessor. Taxpayers are protected because whoever has title to the property
Since 2015, will be subject to paying the associated property taxes. With new development,
supported projects in no existing revenues are lost because of TIF. And when looking at the return
the community valued at on investment, for every $1 invested by the City, $5 are invested privately.

$68M TownePlace Suites by Marriott Breaks Ground

while retaining In October, Kinseth Hospitality broke ground on an 88-room TownePlace
and creating Suites by Marriott in the heart of Marion’s Central Corridor. The $12.4 million
hotel is designed to appeal to extended stay travelers with features that include
395 jobs. an on-site fitness center, swimming pool, business center and suites with full
$103M kitchens. North Liberty based Kinseth Hospitality operates more than 70 hotel
properties in 10 states across the Midwest.
in projects currently
underway or The hotel site (2823 7th Avenue) is the former home of PrinceAgri
Products, located west of 31st Street in Marion. Having served an industrial
planned in Marion purpose for many decades, the location is now a hub for planned business,
retail and commercial development. The project is one of the first signature
redevelopments within Marion’s Central Corridor. The City of Marion has
completed several phases of infrastructure improvements over the past five
years, setting the stage for this modern and cutting edge hotel development.

Squaw Creek Crossing Chances the Landscape

Squaw Creek Crossing is Marion’s first large scale, multi-faceted development
of over 20 acres to include potential development in retail, service, hospitality,
commercial and residential at the northeast corner of Highways 13 and 151.
Squaw Creek Crossing will stand as an entrance from the north, south and east
as visitors enter into the vibrant and growing city of Marion. The first building
under construction within the development is a Dupaco Credit Union.

Improved Infrastructure BY THE NUMBERS:

Progress Continues on Tower Terrace Road ENGINEERING

Tower Terrace Road is a major east-west thoroughfare which will eventually 15+
connect Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Robins, Marion and Linn County from
Interstate 380 to Highway 13. Construction of the I-380 interchange in Hiawatha active subdivisions
has been included in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s (DOT) 5-year plan. being developed

Marion began construction of segments of this project in 2011, which will 20+
greatly enhance access
to North Marion. Marion active commercial sites
has already seen millions
of dollars invested along 30+
this corridor. The newest
stretch east of 10th Street active Capital Improvement
to Winslow Road opened Projects under construction
last spring.
Central Corridor Project Advances
Marion’s 10th well was drilled
Marion’s Central Corridor is one of the most prominent and identifiable into the Silurian aquifer
areas within the community. The completion of 6th Avenue as a second main
thoroughfare parallel to 7th Avenue will diffuse the heavy traffic and make 80%
the central business district safer, more walkable and attractive for retail,
commercial and residential uses. of water accounts have
been upgraded to
The finishing touches were put on radio-read meters
the roundabouts at either end of the
corridor in 2017. With acquisitions 5.9 miles
completed, construction of the
roundabout at the intersection of of new water main installed
6th Avenue and 15th Street began. in new subdivisions
Underground utility work and con-
struction of the next segment of PUBLIC
6th Avenue, from 13th Street to SERVICES
19th Street, will resume in the spring.
Crews stop at
Marion Airport Readies for Safety Improvements
Marion’s airport is following a new hybrid concept marrying public investment
in infrastructure with private investment in surrounding and support facilities. houses per day to collect
In 2015, the City of Marion purchased the runway and fixed-base operations garbage/recycling
building of the Marion Airport. This helped to ensure that the airport, when
expanded and improved, will remain a community asset with the potential of 21,944
becoming an important economic development tool as a general aviation
airport on the east end of the metro area. cars visited the Recycling
Drop-Off Center in FY 2017
While the City owns the runway, the operations of the airport, its charter ser-
vices, flight training, fuel sales and maintenance operations are managed AIRPORT
by private operators. Late in 2017, the Iowa DOT awarded a $425,000 grant to
fund runway improvements and bring it into compliance with DOT standards. 16,400
The width of the runway will more than double from 26 feet to 60 feet.
take offs & landings in 2017

New pilots graduated


Drone pilots certified


Planes added
to the flight school fleet

of Life

Having grown by
more than 45 percent
since 2000, Marion is
committed to maintaining
its sense of community
and reinventing the
city’s core.

BY THE NUMBERS: Uptown Artway Comes to Life

3,000+ Marion was proud to dedicate Uptown Artway in May of 2017. Have
ImagiNEXT you seen this re-imagined gathering space that runs behind 7th Avenue
ideas submitted in Uptown Marion? What was once an under-utilized alley, now features
new utilities and infrastructure, a small stage and nine permanent art
CHAMBER installations by local and national artists. The project was made possible
through a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America, $320,000 from the
In the last year, welcomed City of Marion and nearly $175,000 in other donations.

40 new businesses Creating a Vision through ImagiNEXT
Planned 10 free
ImagiNEXT, Marion’s latest community visioning initiative is currently
community events, underway. The process, initiated by the Marion Chamber of Commerce,
is engaging the greater Marion area in an open, all-inclusive conversation
enjoyed by 21,588 people and developing great ideas that reinforce the fact that Marion is the best
place in Iowa to raise a family and grow a business. To date, more than
Hosted 89 programs 3,000 ideas have been submitted and a committee of 23 volunteers are
tasked with narrowing the list to 100. A community voting period will
& networking events for further narrow the list to 30 and then the committee will select the final
3,452 attendees 3-5 ideas. With community members engaged and a unified vision,
Marion has been invited to apply for Iowa Great Places funding in 2018.
Celebrated 80 years
serving the business community Rock Park
dedicated in late
Since 2013 (program inception), 2017, Waldo’s Rock
Park is the newest
$10M in Private park in Marion. It
Investments features a fishing
pond and pier, quarter mile walking trail around the park, pavilion with
through building acquisitions, picnic tables, connection to the Grant Wood Trail and a large glacial
rehabilitations and new boulder, for which the park gets its name.
construction projects

$705K in State Grants

to rehabilitate our historic

59 Business

Starts and Expansions

“This one-of-a-kind venue is
the perfect example of what
can happen when we think
bigger and reach higher as
a community.”

— Marion

Marion Honored as 2017 All-Star Community BY THE NUMBERS:

The Iowa League of Cities recognized the City of Marion as an All-Star PARKS AND
Community in 2017, honoring the Klopfenstein Amphitheater for the RECREATION
Performing Arts at Lowe Park. The award is the most prestigious honor
given by the League to cities. 150+ trees
planted in city
The idea for an amphitheater grew out of the Imagine8 community right-of-ways and parks
visioning process that identified the need for enhanced amenities in Marion’s
existing network of parks. The amphitheater features a 50-foot stage, intricate Tree City USA –
tile work and a canopy of six oak leaves sculpted from Corten steel.
23 years
Improved programming efforts in recent years have increased usage of this running
permanent outdoor venue and taken it from a best-kept secret to one of Marion’s
crown jewels. Last year alone, the Parks and Recreation Department, with 28 acres
Hotel/Motel funding support, hosted two movie nights, a Johnny Cash tribute of prairie grass/
concert, a dueling pianos performance, as well as a hypnotist and a magician pollinator plants
at the venue.
planted as part
Sculpture Trail Expanded of the 1,000 acre
pollinator initiative
Learning, culture and active living come together when experiencing
Lowe Park in Marion. A visit to the park might include a stroll through out- 13,000+
door demonstration gardens, various community performances, art exhibits
displayed a LEED certified building or self-guided tours of the sculpture trail attended the free
amid beautiful surroundings. The Marion Arts Council dedicated two large- community events at
scale sculptures in 2017. “Disappearing
Culture” by J. Aaron Alderman highlights the Lowe Park
the history of the Iowa Plains and features amphitheater
a bison leading a series of four figures
across the plains. Reinaldo Correa’s 26%
installation, “Prairie Revival,” appears at
the park’s main entrance. The 17-foot tall increase in the recreation
piece features an elevated steel spiral that programs offered in 2017,
grows out of the landscape and embodies 19% increase in program
the cycle and character of the prairie.

SPaufbelticy Marion Firefighters honored with
the Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor
Four Marion firefighters were
BUILDING honored by Governor Kim
Reynolds on Nov. 20 when they
11,000+ received the Sullivan Brothers
inspections Award of Valor at the State
Capitol. The four were honored
completed in FY 2017 for saving a man’s life after his
semi left the roadway and entered
3,122 a pond. The semi-cab was found
almost completely submerged
of permits issued underwater. Firefighters Jeff
Hoover, Peter Lammer, Jeremy Smith and Zachary Bruce were honored for
203 their heroic actions performed during this rescue. Fire Chief Deb Krebill also
commended Captain Rob Schlitter for his role as the incident commander
new homes or housing units – for the ice rescue.
created from 175 permits issued
New Leadership Introduces New Structure
In December 2017, Police Chief Joseph McHale celebrated his one year anniversary
3,550 with the City of Marion. Under his leadership, a number of organizational changes
have been introduced to create efficiencies and better prepare the department for
calls for service, critical incidents, staff development and future growth.
81% were medical calls
Among the changes, the department underwent its most significant restruct-
18% uring in recent history, a distinct chain of command was established to assign
commanding officers across all three patrol shifts and the Investigations Bureau,
increase in call and investigators were reestablished as generalists rather than concentrating on
volume over previous year one special area of investigations. The community’s first patrol beat structure
was developed for the City of Marion and will be operational in April 2018.
In addition, the Police Department forged a partnership with the University of
8,884 people Iowa’s Public Policy Center to develop evidence based practices, increase informa-
tion sharing and structure data into actionable intelligence. Look for more in the
on fire prevention through way of Social Network Analysis, criminal analytics and the development of a 5-year
public education events strategic plan to shape future growth of the department as the community grows.

POLICE Active Living

17th Safe Routes to School Plan Adopted
consecutive year
The Marion Independent School District, in partnership with the City of Marion,
Marion was recognized as approved a Safe Routes to School Plan last fall. Safe Routes to School is a planning
one of the safest cities in Iowa and policy approach designed to promote and establish safe, walkable and bikeable
communities. The plan guides investments for engineering, education, encourage-
for communities with over ment and enforcement activities for schools within the Marion Independent
20,000 in population School District to encourage physical activity among youth.

29,510 “We know that by encouraging our students to be active at a young age we are
promoting healthy lives for them in the future,” said Chris Dyer, superintendent
calls for service, of the Marion Independent School District.
33% were 911 emergencies
The plan was created using input from the City of Marion, Marion Independent
School District, Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Blue Zones
Project Marion (now Be Well Marion), Linn County Public Health and feedback
from community members, students and parents within the district. Among the
first tangible outcomes of the plan is the installation of pedestrian beacons
between the Marion High School and Starry Elementary.

Improved Access to Library Services Improved
The Marion Public Library has spent the year increasing opportunities for the
community to connect to the services and information people need. This spring, the BY THE NUMBERS:
Marion Public Library (and its Metro Library Network partners) launched a mobile
hotspot program that allows users to connect to the internet wherever they go. LIBRARY

Story times are the cornerstone of library services to youth, and the Marion Public 7th
Library now offers these year round. This change allows adult caregivers and children
to attend sessions during holiday seasons and school vacations, ensuring that kids are busiest library in the state
consistently connected to learning by singing, talking, reading and interacting all year Library materials
long. Another new outreach initiative—Grow on the Go—complements in-library were checked out
programs for youth by taking story times and supplies directly into local daycares
and preschools throughout Marion. 698,582
times in FY 2017
For tweens and teens, the library has expanded its programming to include regular
after-school programs four times a week (with STEAM activities, art and culture 319,437
guests, role play games and more), added specialized staff to the teen services team,
and implemented an outreach plan that includes monthly visits to Marion middle people visited the library
and high schools. last year, an average of
875 people per day
Library services for seniors in Marion have increased throughout the past year as well.
While staff continues to offer a diverse range of programs in the library geared toward 19,267
older patrons, they have also implemented more outreach services. Books, DVDs, and
book club kits are delivered to multiple senior living facilities in Marion monthly, and people attended library
programming is offered in numerous assisted living communities. The homebound book programs,
delivery program continues to grow to include more residents from all across Marion.
Connecting Across Generations
were children
Staff and council members strive to be accessible and want to gather feedback and ideas
from residents. Members of the City Council continue to host weekly office hours on
Saturday mornings at the Marion Public Library.

A group of local senior citizens has been meeting regularly with the mayor and City
staff to identify resources and bring to light the needs of this segment of the population.
Understanding that active aging is about more than physical activity, the group is focused
on community involvement and healthy lifestyle choices. One positive outcome of these
efforts will be two senior meal sites returning to Marion in 2018.

The mayor and community leaders have also been engaging with local high school
students on a monthly basis to brainstorm ideas, gather input and share dialogue.

to Be Well 178 pounds

Marion’s designation of fresh vegetables donated
as a Blue Zones Certified to the food pantry from
Community yielded the Uptown Garden
positive changes for the
community, but there is 1,056
still work to be done. Marion’s well-being initiative is transitioning to Be Well
Marion, building upon the success achieved through the Blue Zones Project®. Sunrise Yoga participants
The efforts will be guided by a policy document that supports active living attended 13 sessions, offered
immersed in nature. The plan outlines a four-pronged approach to active living, by 11 volunteer instructors
active transportation, biophillic design and community interaction. Look for
more information and opportunities to be involved in the coming year. 4

sold out cooking classes
at Marion Hy-Vee


General Fund FY 2017 Strong Bond Rating

Property Taxes $12,353,663 e City of Marion continues to maintain
its strong Aa1 bond rating, as assigned by
Other Financing Sources $5,834,308 Moody’s Investors Service. Marion has received
this rating consistently since 2010 with each
#1 Licenses & Permits $729,764 issuance of bonds.
SOURCE Charges for Services $542,500 As of May 2017, of the 900+ communities
in the state of Iowa, only three had a higher
60% Other City Taxes $343,681 rating (Clive, Iowa City and West Des Moines).
Only ve other communities shared the same
PROPERTY Intergovernmental $319,195 rating as Marion, including: Ames, Ankeny,
TAX Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids and Urbandale.
#1 Misc Revenues $305,156
is rating allows the City to borrow at lower
EXPENDITURE Use of Money & Property $245,362 rates and stretches taxpayer dollars further.
Total Revenues $20,673,629 e independent annual audit by Hogan-
57% Hansen indicated that Marion’s nancial state-
Public Safety $12,424,495 ments were presented fairly and accurately
PUBLIC Culture and Recreation $4,014,076 in accordance with accounting principles
SAFETY General Government $2,171,350 accepted nationwide.
Community &
$1,393,756 Fiscal Responsibility
Economic Development $965,680
Public Works $767,932 e City Manager’s O ce and Finance/
Other Financing Uses City Clerk’s Department are responsible for
preparing the annual operating budget. ese
Total Expenditures $21,737,289 o ces work with all departments to prepare
and maintain the budget that is consistent
with the objectives of the City Council and
the Strategic Plan.

e charts depict the General Fund budget
from FY2017. e General Fund is one of
several funds in the City’s annual operating
budget. While it appears expenditures were
higher than revenues, the City has a long-
standing policy to maintain a minimum
General Fund cash balance in reserves equal
to 35 percent of expenditures and transfers.
In FY2017, the City opted to utilize some of
the unspent reserve to balance and minimize
the property tax levy.

Uptown Redevelopment Projects
& Marion Public Library to Expect

The Marion Public Library Board is working with Ryan 20in18
Companies and Genesis Equities LLC to build a new library
as part of a large mixed-use development where Marion Eco Industrial Park
Square Mall currently sits. The current concept incorporates
market-rate residential and commercial components located With a goal of becoming a Zero Waste community, the
adjacent to a library space. Including the library as part of a Public Services Department is looking to the future and
mixed-use development will make it a centerpiece of Uptown, finding ways to make Marion a leader in sustainability.
support commerce and vitality in Uptown and add taxable Plans include the creation of an Eco Industrial Park near
value to help pay the costs of expanding library services. A 3rd Avenue and 44th Street in Marion. A new Public
3-4 level parking structure is expected to be built on the lot Services maintenance facility will replace the existing
between the existing library and Marion City Hall. A response facility on 35th Street. The park is also expected to integrate
to the Request for Proposals for the current library involves alternative energy resources which will provide long term
a project with more commercial and residential space. cost savings. In May, work began on the first phase of
the project.
Fire Station No. 3
New Regional YMCA
As Marion continues to grow, so does the need for properly
staffed and distributed fire and emergency response forces. The YMCA Community Fitness Center is the largest project
The community’s growth north coupled with increased call to come out of the Imagine8 community visioning process.
volume makes this a necessity in the coming years. Plan The much-anticipated project will be built as a partnership
development and construction are expected in 2018 with between the City and YMCA as a full-service recreation
the station being placed in service in 2019. center. Located on over 10-acres to support indoor and out-
door recreation needs, this multi-generational facility will be
Future Development of Lowe Park designed as a hub to meet the recreation, wellness, education
and social needs of families and employers of the region.
Lowe Park is Marion’s largest park, spanning 180-acres
and stretching from Alburnett Road to North 10th Street. The property and facility, located off Tower Terrace Road,
A south entrance at Irish Drive and two parking lots will be owned and operated by the Cedar Rapids Metro
were constructed in recent years. In 2018, the Parks and Area YMCA. The City of Marion will be a facility partner,
Recreation Department is working with MSA Consultants allowing special access and dedicated use of the facility at
mutually agreed upon times. Preliminary designs for the
to further develop facility have been completed and fundraising is underway.
the area as a neigh-
borhood park with Expansion of the Trail System
the addition of the
community’s first Work to expand the trail system continues, with nearly
all-inclusive play- $10 million in federal grants slated for trails over the
ground structure, next few years. The Grant Wood Trail extension from
as well as an open Highway 13 to 35th Street will be a hard surface trail
air pavilion and extending through the existing underpass at Highway 13.
restroom facility. Construction is anticipated in 2018. The segment from
35th Street to 31st Street is expected to be constructed
Prospect Meadows Ball Fields next fall along the former railroad right-of-way.

Prospect Meadows recently received a $1.5 million The CeMar Trail is meant to connect Downtown
challenge grant from The Hall-Perrine Foundation, Cedar Rapids with Uptown Marion. The two former
resulting in $10.9 million in committed funding for the first railroad bridges (one over Indian Creek and the other
phase of the estimated $13.6 million project. The facility will over Marion Boulevard) will be reconstructed as part of
be located at the southeast corner of County Home Road the trail project. Engineering design and environmental
and Hwy 13. assessments will occur in 2018 with construction to follow.

A groundbreaking ceremony may be in sight for spring
2018 for the Prospect Meadows baseball and softball com-
plex if the $900,000 needed to meet the challenge is raised
by then. The first phase of the project will include nine ball
fields, with one field designated as the “Miracle Field” for
all levels of mobility. The complex is expected to draw
60,000 out of town visitors annually.

1225 6th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302



1225 6th Avenue Administrative & Operations Offices

Marion landed in the Marion, IA 52302 Thomas Park – 343 Marion Boulevard 319-447-3580
mcarolan (at)
top 10% Administrative Offices Recreation Office
tracim (at) Lowe Park – 4500 N 10th Street
of Best 319-447-3590
Small Cities Building Department khummel (at)
in America 319-743-6330
according to WalletHub.
To find the best, analysts City Clerk/Finance (solid waste, sewer, streets)
319-743-6350 195 35th Street • 319-377-6367
wnelson (at) public-services (at)

compared more than City Manager MARION PUBLIC LIBRARY
1,200 U.S. Cities with
populations between 319-743-6301 1095 6th Avenue • 319-377-3412
citymanager (at) mplinfo (at)
25,000 and 100,000
and evaluated 33 key Engineering Department FIRE DEPARTMENT
indicators of livability. 319-743-6340
mbarkalow (at) 3933 Katz Drive
Emergency – 911

Planning & Development Non-Emergency – 319-377-8237
319-743-6320 dkrebill (at)
ttreharne (at)
Water Department
319-743-6310 Highway 151
tsteigerwaldt (at) Emergency – 911
Non-Emergency – 319-377-1511
MOMENTUM Records – 319-200-7714
Administration – 319-200-7727
administration (at)

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