Marion offers outdoor enjoyment for all ages and abilities

An aerial view of Prospect Meadows in Marion.
An aerial view of Prospect Meadows in Marion.(KCRG)
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 8:22 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - This time of year, a lot of people in Our Town Marion enjoy exploring local parks and outdoor amenities, and the city is always looking for ways to improve what the town has to offer.

In this summer of uncertainty, one thing is for certain; kids love to have fun. And at an all-inclusive playground in Lowe Park, all kids have that opportunity.

“It’s very unique. It’s our first inclusive playground in the City of Marion,” Seth Staashelm, deputy director of Marion’s Park and Recreation Department, said. “We’re trying to be as inclusive as possible, get people in all walks of life and all skills ability to be able to learn and play together.”

Within Lowe Park, there is something for everyone, whether you’re on a bike, exploring nature or enjoying outdoor entertainment at the amphitheater.

In addition to building new parks, the city is also redeveloping older ones, like Gill Park, with a splash pad that’s perfect for a summer day. There’s also a new skate park at Butterfield Park and stocked ponds ready for fishing.

It’s hard to picture summer without baseball. But that’s how the season started at Prospect Meadows, with games starting later than usual.

“I think it was really was sort of our first beacon of hope of reopening,” Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, said. “I know it meant a great deal to players.”

It’s also meant a lot to businesses, who benefit from players and their families spending money in Marion.

“Until we got the first season in, nobody really understood the impact,” Ackerman said. “Of course this year, those numbers were supposed to double, then COVID-19 happened, and they’re really kind of flat to last year. But really, it was a blessing to have Prospect Meadows come to our community because it’s really helping to keep our businesses afloat during a really tough time.”

A future expansion will almost double the size of the facility with more green space to grow. And along with the parks in town, growing is part of the plan for Marion.

“We build a lot of community within the park system that is very unique and public space for people to utilize and come together,” Staashelm said.

Marion Parks and Recreation and GreenState Credit Union are offering a free drive-in movie at Lowe Park on July 17. It’s a twist on the traditional Moonlit Movie Series. The live-action version of “Aladdin” will play around 8:30 p.m. for a limited number of cars in the Irish Drive parking lot. You must register ahead of time and physical distancing measures will be in place.

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