Marion’s public park system is making great strides following the recent fusion within two city departments. Matter Park’s Friendship Corner for special needs children recently welcomed the addition of a wheelchair-accessible swing, and a sandbox. The nearby pond now has a large wheelchair-accessible deck for catch-and-release fishing and sightseeing. Also in Matter Park, Shelter 2 near the tennis courts had a new metal roof constructed. Shelter 3 near the special needs playground has an upgraded kitchen with a new stove and range, which will enhance facility rentals.
In other parks around Marion, both Charles Mill and 28th Street Parks have received new basketball goals with customized designs, and playground improvements. Striping and bathroom maintenance has been completed for soccer at Ballard Field. Playground features at Franklin Park are being replaced. The Mississinewa Riverwalk has gotten much needed attention with replacement of boards throughout problem areas, making way to receive a full facelift planned for later this year. Maintenance staff continues to address general maintenance needs at the Splash House gearing up for this season’s opening. The Splash House entrance signs have been replaced with bright, welcoming signs to greet patrons.
Many more improvement projects are planned, and workers are transitioning well after merging in late December. Citywide Maintenance and Parks Department maintenance employees are both under the direction of Superintendent James Loftis. Loftis said the staff has a great attitude, a lot of expertise, and share in Mayor Jess Alumbaugh’s vision for the city. Loftis sited the recent collaborative effort of his staff and the neighbors of Barnes Park which resulted in significant improvements to the playground and overall public space.
Mayor Alumbaugh stated, “The Barnes Park project is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when citizens step up and get actively involved in their neighborhoods. The consolidation of these two departments’ workforces has far exceeded my expectations. It not only demonstrates that you can accomplish so much more when you utilize your resources in an efficient manner, but also attests to the dedication of the men and women who serve the citizens of Marion.