For the fourth time in five years, the City of Marion was selected as the winner of the All-Star Community by the Iowa League of Cities in the large city category. The 2021 award was given for the Marion YMCA & Community Rec Center. The City will be recognized during the awards ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 16, which is part of the League’s Annual Conference & Exhibit planned for Sept. 15-17.
The All-Star Community Award is the most prestigious honor given by the League to cities. Entries are judged by a panel of former city officials and others familiar with municipal government. Judges determine winners based on innovative efforts in areas such as urban renewal, development, preservation, collaborative efforts or quality of life improvements. Marion was among three of Iowa’s 940 cities to garner such recognition.
“It is really an honor for Marion to be recognized by the League in this way,” said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly. “We continue to focus on serving the needs of people and expanding opportunities for all residents. This award signifies statewide visibility and overall endorsement of our community’s progress in recent years.”
The new YMCA was the product of a decade-long effort to replace the community’s aging, 56-year-old facility. While the Y had adequately served its members for many decades, the facility was outdated and no longer able to meet the needs of the community which had grown by over 30,000 residents in the same 56-year timeframe.
The City of Marion's commitment to providing quality recreational services for its residents and surrounding communities was one of the greatest factors supporting this project. A community visioning process in 2009 established the need for a new community recreation center. The community wanted a facility that would serve as a focal point for community meetings, recreational opportunities, youth programs, events and senior services.
The City's contribution of $7.3 million represents broad public support from the Marion community. The project broke ground in November 2019 and the YMCA obtained its certificate of occupancy on Dec. 30, 2020. The building opened to the public just weeks later.
The first-class facility is more than double the size of the former Marion YMCA. The building spans over 70,000 square feet with more than 7,000 square feet of fitness space, three full-size basketball courts, an indoor track, plus leisure and lap swimming pools.
“This project is much more than a beautiful building,” AbouAssaly stated at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “The truly spectacular part of the story is what will happen here, through the partnership between the Y and the City of Marion. Community will happen here."
This year’s other All-Star Community Award winners are Mount Vernon and Woodbine.