City Administrator Roger Holter said the total project cost is $894,880 with Marion paying 20 percent of it, or $178,976.
The city applied for the Kansas Department of Transportation grant three times, he said, but the requirements changed slightly this time.
“Under the federal program called, ‘Get Moving,’ the project is to promote physical activity,” Holter said. “So our revised plan anchored pedestrian pathways to the Central Park recent enhancements and planned future projects.”
The city also scaled back the scope of the project to stay under the $1 million funding level, Holter said.
“We believe these two actions played in a positive manner with the decision makers,” he said.
Holter said this grant round generated 48 application from more than 630 communities eligible to apply.
“Twenty-five projects were funded (totaling almost $13 million),” he said. “Marion received 5.3 percent of the total funds awarded.”
The largest portion went to the Kansas Department of Wildlife for the Flint Hill Nature Trail Project, which received 23.5 percent, Holter added.
The final phasing plan will be generated in the engineering design, Holter said.
“This will be a phased project due to the nature of the work,” he said. “Outside the scope of the project, we plan to take the overhead electrical utilities to underground, which will enhance the appearance of the project.”
Initial thoughts are to tackle it in one or two block segments to limit disruption to commerce.
“The state was looking for and appears they funded projects that could be completed in their entirety,” he said.
During the site visit, Holter said city officials offered to reduce some of the lighting elements, but received the recommendation to leave it in.
“We will have two level lighting in the project—the higher level will provide lighting for the vehicular traffic—the lower lamp post enhance lighting for the pedestrians,” he said.
Holter said over the past few years, the city has fostered a strong relationship with many state and federal agencies to make community improvements.
“We have gained the recognition of being able to complete projects on time and under budget,” he said.
“Additionally, our community success of completing projects that are locally privately funded has gained recognition as well.”
He said Marion has completed the Safe Routes program, Jex sewer program, KLINK on West Main, a streets and intersection project, park restroom project, and the Victory Plaza Housing project.
“We are currently in construction phase at East Park and will begin the KLINK on East Main later this year.” he added.
In the application, the city offered drawings of traffic and pedestrian areas.
“The preliminary engineering traditionally does lay out the visual elements completely,” he said. “But, once the design contract is awarded by Marion council, the engineering firm will provide detailed drawings that will be made public as soon as possible.”
Holter said the city and other agencies agreed the streetscape improvement project will revitalize the downtown and encourage more travelers to take the five-mile Kansas Highway 256 loop and explore what the city has to offer.
Another advantage Marion has is a viable Main Street business district, he said.
“There is a solid mix of retail, food and commercial service businesses that generate large traffic volumes along Main Street,” Holter said.
But the streetscape features within this corridor haven’t been addressed, Holter said, with the exception of the Central Park portion on K-256.
Some of the key features of the project include new sidewalks with brick ribbon feature, which will be the keystone elements of the streetscape.
Brick crosswalks also will connect the pedestrian protection zones and islands at the intersections.
A stone welcome sign is included in the design where the legal U-turn is allowed, and where the Main Street is offset, creating a natural, visible location, state officials noted.
Benches and trash receptacles will be grouped with tree locations, two on one side and one on the opposite side of Main Street.
Decorative, ornamental street lighting will provide the most defining style signature to the streetscape project, according to state officials.
Other features include underground electric service, landscaping, holders and hangers for banners, flags and Christmas decorations, Pete in Central Park surrounded by downtown business district rhinos and ADA ramps and parking stall pavement markings.
“We believe Marion is proving to be one of the rural Kansas communities that has charted a path to the future through community engagement and involvement,” Holter said.
“This level of vision and commitment make it easier for those entrusted to be good stewards of public funds to be willing to invest in our community.”
Like most businesses, private or public, it is easier to invest in the future of proven winners, Holter said.
“We are so very proud of the citizens of Marion and their forward looking and thinking, as they are working so diligently to preserve a lifestyle that is so desirable and unique in a changing world,” he added.
Holter said Marion is a community committed to proving the 50-year population projections are wrong.
“We are a diverse community committed to all generations prospering and enjoying our amazing quality of life,” he said.
In addition to the city’s efforts, Holter thanked the local PRIDE committee, Tabor College, Marion High School students, municipal workers and others who aided in beautification.
“(These groups) revitalized the area with painting of existing fixtures, deploying flower planters, construction of new public restroom in historic Main Street Central Park area and implementation of a free Wi-Fi Hotspot service.