Smyth County

Marion, Virginia receives grant to improve streetscape

MARION, Va. - The town of Marion, Virginia received $240,000 to improve the streetscape in downtown. Below is the full release from the town:

The Town of Marion has received notification from the Virginia Department of Transportation that the community will receive the first round of funding necessary to continue to streetscape improvement project along Main Street.  Phase Four will extend the brick-lined concrete, street trees, and pedestrian-scaled lighting extending from the intersection at Town Hall westward to the South Main split in front of the Blue Ridge Job Corps. 

"This is an important piece of our continued work to make our community attractive and inviting," said Ken Heath, Marion's Director of Community and Economic Development. "We are pleased VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board recognizes the significant impact the improved aesthetics plays in our recruiting and retaining businesses, boosts community pride, and serves as part of our overall strategy to tie in with the tourism-based cultural heritage initiatives."

The community first tapped into the program in 1998 with the "Dew Downtown" campaign that removed most of the overhead power lines, outdated "cobra-head" lighting fixtures, and broken concrete sidewalks, replacing them with a design that brought back a "walkable downtown streetscape".  The overhead lights were replaced with traditional acorn globes on fluted poles that hold decorative banners, sidewalks were replaced with new concrete highlighted with brick pavers, the overhead lines were removed, and street trees were reintroduced downtown. The next  redeveloping the North Iron Street Plaza, converting a narrow alleyway into a landscaped pedestrian walkway connecting the parking deck to Main Street.

"Projects of this magnitude take significant funding," said James McNeil, president of Marion Downtown, "and we are always looking for opportunities to bring grant dollars back to our town to use them as wisely as we can to get a bang for our buck.  Streetscape improvements have gone hand-in-hand with encouraging private reinvestment by building owners and store owners, and overall, the downtown program is generating over $27 for every $1 invested in the program. We anticipate this phase will take a few years to get fully funded, but now we have the kickstart we need to begin developing plans and construction documents so we're ready to go as soon as we hit our goal."

The North Iron Street Plaza project is anticipated to be completed this summer, and construction documents will be procured for the next phase this fall.  The Town is anticipated to apply for the additional funding in next year's cycle, with construction on Phase Four in 2015.

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