Marion to construct new park downtown

By Luke Britt/Editor

The Town of Marion will soon have a new park, a public computer lab, a new Family Dollar store and new security cameras in the downtown area, according to members of the Town Council who met for their regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

Mayor Danny Smith also announced that the Marion office of the Union Parish TRIAD program has re-opened after being closed for more than a year due to the COVID pandemic. 

“There are several projects that are coming together just now, and things are looking very promising for the Town of Marion,” Smith said.

In 2022, Marion received a $250,000 Love LA Outdoors grant from the state to create an outdoor recreational space and on Tuesday the Council voted to accept a bid of $169,600 from BGW Construction of Dubach to create a park on Main Street at the site of the old Marion State Bank. The building and its foundation have been removed and Smith said he expects construction on the park to begin soon.

A portion of the grant was used to pay for the planning and design phases of the project, Smith said, which left the town with $165,000 for construction. The town has already received sufficient private donations to cover any costs the grant doesn’t cover, he said.

“It’s going to be a really nice space right on Main Street for people to enjoy, and we’ll make good use of it for events that bring the community together,” Smith said.

At Tuesday’s meeting Smith also announced that the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree corporation estimates that the new Family Dollar store should be open in mid-October and said the town’s existing dollar store, Dollar General, has committed to begin selling fresh produce as soon as possible.

The TRIAD Program office at 143 Stewart Street that closed more than a year ago due to the COVID pandemic has reopened, Smith said. While the office was closed, Smith said the building was given a modest refurbishment with new windows, doors and drainage work to alleviate flooding in the back of the building. 

The TRIAD Program seeks to reduce the criminal victimization of the elderly by educating seniors regarding potential risks and by providing resources that help them protect themselves. 

Smith thanked Sheriff Dusty Gates for helping bring the TRIAD program back to Marion.

“When we realized the office was still closed, we reached out to Sheriff Gates and he made it a priority to get it open again, so we thank him for that,” Smith said.

At Tuesday’s meeting the council announced that the town has used a $15,000 state safety grant to install security cameras in multiple locations around town. Camera’s have been installed at the Town Hall, fire station, Council on Aging/TRIAD office and at the town’s water system facility on Highway 33.

Smith thanked State Rep. Chris Turner for marshaling the grant through the legislative process. 

Smith also thanked the Union Parish School System for funding a computer lab that has been opened in the Council on Aging/TRIAD building. The lab, which includes three computers and a printer, is primarily intended for parents and students who may not have access to a computer, printer or the internet, Smith said, but Marion residents who need access to a computer for such tasks as looking for work will be allowed to use the computers as well.

The town is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab at 10 a.m. on Aug. 21.

Also on Tuesday, Smith discussed the town’s efforts to address Marion’s blighted properties and those that are being poorly maintained and said he has been meeting with officials from other communities to see how they are addressing the issue.

“What I’m finding is that we may not need to create new ordinances as much as to enforce those that already exist,” Smith said.

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