City of Marion officials: Government shutdown delayed repairs to park

Because of the federal government shutdown, it will take a little longer for the repairs to the Marion Community Building’s park to be completed before it can finally reopen.

City of Marion officials say they hope the park can be fully open again before the end of 2019.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Marion City Council heard another update from Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Julie Scherer about the park next to the Community Building.

The city of Marion submitted in December an application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for federal government funding to pay for the repairs. Scherer said this is an approximately $600,000 project which will involve repairing the sinkholes and the storm water culverts underneath the park. Once that is done, new playground equipment will be installed.

“This is a big undertaking and we want it to be done right,” said Scherer to the City Council.

Then, the federal government shutdown of 2018-19 lasted for 35 days and it turned out to be the longest government shutdown in American history. That event delayed getting the review done by USDA officials by more than a month. Now that the federal government is operating again, city of Marion officials hope the review work is back on track.

“All we can say for sure now is that USDA is reviewing the city's application for financing for the Community Building Park storm water improvements,” said City Manager Bob Boyette to The McDowell News. “Their review was on hold during the federal government shutdown. Once USDA and the North Carolina Local Government Commission give their approval for the project, the city can proceed with bidding out the project. We cannot bid out the project until these approvals are given.”

Scherer told council that the repair work should get underway during late summer or early fall of this year.

“The most recent estimate that the city's consulting engineer provided for completion of repairs was November,” said Boyette to The McDowell News. “That was before the federal government shutdown, so the time for the completion of repairs is uncertain. If all goes well, we hope repairs can be started this summer or fall and that everything can be completed in 2019.”

The splash pad is not affected by this and will operate this summer as usual. In the meantime, the public is welcome to enjoy Marion’s other parks: West Marion Park, located on Addie’s Chapel Drive on Ridley Street next to Addie’s Chapel United Methodist Church; Cross Mill Park, located on Granby Street near the old Cross Cotton Mill; Clinchfield Park, located on Hill Street near the old Clinchfield Mill and Eastfield Park, located on Perry Street next to Eastfield Global Magnet School.

Quarterly MBA report

In addition, the City Council heard the quarterly report from the Marion Business Association as presented by President Chris Allison. From October through December of 2018, the city of Marion welcomed seven new businesses: Mountain Marquee, Vintage Market Marion, Spring House Farm Style, Manual Woodworkers and Weavers, The Makery, Luisa’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria and Bracelets, Baubles & Bling. Two businesses closed during that time: Moondoggy’s and the Sears store.

Four businesses either moved or got a new owner. They were Clear Creek Golf Carts, Blackbeard Outdoor World, CJ’s Pit Stop and Aria Rose.

The planned Dunkin’ Donuts for Marion is on hold for now. Local officials hope construction can occur this year. The work on the new Ingles for Marion is underway and it will be a 10 to 12 month project. A shoe store plans to locate in the old Walmart building, next to Harbor Freight Tools. Petsense is still interested in opening a store in Marion, said Allison.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

• Took final action regarding the sale of city-owned property on Morehead Road. Todd Miller offered the city $7,500 for .25 of an acre on Morehead Road. The city had to go through the upset bid process before the sale could become final. After that was done, council agreed to sell the property to Miller for $7,500.

• Approved the advertisement of delinquent 2018 real property taxes.

• Agreed to add Lake James to the wayfinding signs in downtown Marion.

• Approved the purchase of a new pickup truck for the Sanitation Department. Council agreed to purchase a 2019 Ford F-150 XL from Asheville Ford for $22,698 through Sheriff’s Association pricing and is within the city’s budget.

• Approved the purchase of a new dump truck for the Utility Maintenance Department. Council agreed to purchase a 2019 Ford F-550 XL from Asheville Ford for $56,908 through Sheriff’s Association pricing and is within the city’s budget.

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