Indian Creek renovation ideas presented at Marion City

This viewing area is one of the sites proposed along a 9-mile stretch of Indian Creek in Marion as part of the master plan to develop the creek’s recreational potential. The $12.5 million proposal would have nine sites providing kayak and tubing access, educational opportunities and other options. It would take about a decade to complete and will depend on the city securing grants and other funding. (ISG rendering)

MARION — The Marion City Council is beginning to look at a $12.5 million master plan that would add recreational trails, kayak stations and educational signage along the 9-mile stretch of Indian Creek.

Staci Williams, with the research firm ISG, shared renderings of nine potential creek amenities with council members at their Tuesday evening council meeting. They liked what they saw.

“People love to be next to water,” Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said. “The sight and sound of water do something to people, and I think it will be a tremendous boost to the quality of life.”

Ideas for the amenities were drawn from a community survey earlier this year.

The Indian Creek master plan, known as Creekside Pride, has been in the works since the city’s ImagiNEXT visioning process in 2017. More than 3,000 responses came from residents with Indian Creek upgrades ranking second behind a new municipal swimming pool.

The city received $40,000 from the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization to fund a master-planning study for the Indian, Dry and Wanatee Creek corridors to attract more funding for recreational access.

At this time, the project’s estimated cost would be $12.5 million.

Water Department Manager Todd Steigerwaldt said the project’s timeline will depend on funding and grant opportunities.

“Ideally, all nine locations would be fully completed in less than 10 years, but this is subject to funding,” Steigerwaldt said.

“I anticipate partial completion of certain sites, giving residents some access to the creek sooner rather than later, with simple, lower cost, improvements like gravel parking lots instead of paved.”

Todd Steigerwaldt, Marion water manager

This is one of the sites proposed in a Creekside Pride project along a 9-mile stretch of Indian Creek in Marion. The $12.5 million proposal would have nine sites providing kayak and tubing access, educational opportunities and other options. It would take about a decade to complete. (ISG rendering)

Site ideas

The first site would be northeast of Linn-Mar High School where a larger parking lot would provide staging areas for kayaks or tubes, as well a playscape and seating mixed in with native prairie.

The other eight sites would be south of the first site, with creek access and signage and viewing areas offering educational opportunities.

The sites would be connected by paved biking and pedestrian trails.

Williams, the design consultant, said a few sites, like site six north of Thomas Park, would be a “showstopper” and potentially include a 2.6 acre pond stocked with fish.

The mayor said he thinks Creekside Pride is the perfect example of grassroots organization getting a community project moving.

“It came to be through the ImagiNEXT process, and it’s a wonderful project — taking a natural feature and making it an asset,” AbouAssaly said. “It’s the most beautiful view of Marion, in my opinion, and I’ve always wanted to see it become more of an amenity.”

Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly

The Creekside Project would include recreational trails linked nine amenities along a nine-mile stretch of Indian Creek through Marion. The $12.5 million project will take at least a decade to complete and will be dependent on finding grants and other funding. (ISG rendering)

Council member Steve Jensen said, “It’s very exciting to talk about this project and take advantage of something Mother Nature has given us.”

“I think it’s fantastic,” added council member Sara Mentzer. “I love it.”

Water level

The Creekside Pride project does not aim to improve water quality, as that’s part of the larger Indian Creek Watershed project. But Williams acknowledged planners are looking at the depth of the Indian Creek in different areas.

“To look at the entire creek would be a significant investment so we’re looking at the higher profile areas,” Williams said. “There will be times when water is too high or too low to use the creek. That’s just the case with rivers and streams.

“So we’re looking at what we can do with a realistic budget and time frame scenario, knowing the creek won’t be usable all of the time.”

Comments: (319) 398-8255; [email protected]

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