Council OKs naming of Apgar Family Water Plaza

T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Longtime local photographer Tom Apgar addresses the Marshalltown city council during Monday night’s meeting. The council voted 6-0 to grant naming rights for the Apgar Family Water Plaza.

The yet-to-be-constructed water plaza in Mega-10 Park will be dedicated to a family with deep ties and connections to the Marshalltown community after the city council unanimously approved the naming of the Apgar Family Water Plaza during Monday night’s regular meeting.

Arts+Culture Alliance Executive Director Amber Danielson, Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall and Marshalltown Parks and Recreation Director Geoff Hubbard provided updates on the Linn Creek District projects that have received Destination Iowa grant funding — the water plaza, the Ann C. Keyser Trailhead and the Emerson Bridge, with the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse also receiving brief mention.

Hubbard shared an updated rendering of the water plaza, which has morphed from a “huge” stainless steel structure to a lighter, more colorful design that he felt pairs better with the trailhead and bridge concept. He noted that the plaza has already received a Central States ASLA Merit Award and then handed the microphone off to Hall and Danielson, who spoke about the private fundraising efforts to raise the necessary dollars to make the projects possible.

As Danielson took the stage, she touted the collaboration with community partners and business and property owners throughout the process and called it both fun and rewarding. Improving the Linn Creek District, she said, was one of seven “big ideas” selected back in 2007 as a focus for a grassroots community visioning effort.

“While we’ve seen quite a bit of public investment in this district, specifically over the last five years, from a public perspective, we really feel like we are re-catalyzing this district and reimagining this district and pointing back to plans that have been in place for quite some time,” Danielson said. “I know you’re familiar with the city of Marshalltown’s Arts and Culture Master Plan. We really feel like these projects align with that plan on making Marshalltown unique and distinct and authentically reflecting our community.”

Arts+Culture Alliance Executive Director Amber Danielson, front, and Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall, back, shared an update on fundraising efforts for the four Destination Iowa grant projects in the Linn Creek District during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Hall mentioned the $2 million Destination Iowa grant, which the city and the Fisher Governor Foundation jointly applied for, and the state’s continued investments in creative placemaking. In all, the four projects are estimated to cost $7.3 million — with $2 million from the state, $1.9 million from the city (including a portion from the Ann C. Keyser Trust) and $903,000 from the Fisher Governor Foundation as overflow from the redevelopment of the Marshalltown Arts and Civic Center (MACC), an additional $2.5 million was still needed.

To date, Hall reported that $2.3 million of that gap has been secured, and only $200,000 more is needed to get across the finish line with asks of $285,000 currently pending. Councilor Mike Ladehoff inquired about how confident Hall is on the remaining requests, and he said that while it’s hard to know for sure, the meetings he’s had have been positive and encouraging. Hall expected to hear about a $100,000 business ask by Tuesday and additional grants totaling $80,000 relatively soon.

“We feel like we’re making really great progress on it, and we haven’t yet gotten to that public part of the campaign. You always intend to leave a portion at the end to make sure that we can bring as many folks into this project as possible, and again, that’s where we’ve got some of those stretch goals that we think we’ll be able to make some really meaningful impact with these pieces,” he said.

Councilor Gary Thompson then jokingly asked if Hall’s answer to Ladehoff was yes, which drew a reluctant “Yeah,” and Danielson said they were targeting donors who saw the potential of Marshalltown and wanted to see it grow.

“As confident as we can possibly be,” she said.

Ladehoff was impressed with how quickly they had raised the money and felt that it showed strong community support for the projects, while Mayor/Acting City Administrator Joel Greer commended Danielson and Hall as a great team.

Fellow Councilor Mark Mitchell said the numbers showed that private fundraising efforts could be successful and hoped other organizations would take notice. According to Hubbard, the goal was to be at 90 percent of the fundraising total by the time the projects went out to bid, and they’ve already surpassed that with plans to go out for bid by August and start construction in 2025.

City Clerk Alicia Hunter read a written comment from Leigh Bauder sharing concerns about the plans to remove the current bridge on South 6th Street and replace it as part of the project. As the floor was opened up for public comment, Allan Kent called the proposals “crap” and wondered why the city wasn’t focused on more pressing needs as opposed to putting up “things that look pretty.”

“I think you need to consider spending your money on the city the way it is now and cleaning it up that way,” he said.

The first motion related to the project, amending the contract with Snyder and Associates for the design of the trailhead and bridge, passed by a 5-1 tally with Mark Mitchell opposed. Greer then reminded Kent about speaking out of turn after he had audibly responded to a rhetorical question, which resulted in a heated exchange between the two that ended with Kent leaving the meeting.

The next action items related to the formal naming rights for the water plaza and the trailhead bridge, and Hubbard welcomed Danielson and Hall back to the stage as well as Tom Apgar himself. Back when the city had two separate pools, the one on the north side was named after the late John Apgar, Tom’s brother who died of cancer in 1981.

“The stars couldn’t have aligned, and I think I can speak on John (Hall) and I’s behalf, we feel extremely honored that we have been able to connect with Tom and be able to continue his family’s legacy,” Danielson said. “I think so many of us have been connected to the Apgar family in some way, shape or form throughout the years… With all the legacies that exist already in the Linn Creek District, we couldn’t be more proud to fit this one in there in a really, really impactful way.”

Tom Apgar then took the microphone and commended Danielson and Hall for their work, and he felt the plaza was the perfect way to resurrect his family’s name since the old Apgar pool is no more. The selling point for him, he said, was the fact that the plaza will be free of charge and all inclusive once it is completed.

“The whole diverse community can enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a place where people gather to have fun and associate and enjoy their community, and that goes right to my lifelong thoughts about Marshalltown. I hope the council votes to approve the naming agreement. It means a lot to me to leave a legacy, and I just want to say there’s a lot of great things going on in this community through the Chamber of Commerce, through John Hall, through Amber Danielson, through the (Central Business District), the community school district, MCC, Iowa Valley. Everything is happening in this town. We have a lot of strong leaders motivated towards common goals.”

He added that in all his time living in Marshalltown, he had never seen so much going on and praised Greer for a T-R OpEd piece he recently penned. Despite her past opposition to the expense of the project, Bauder, who cofounded Splash 4 Life over a decade ago, gave her wholehearted support for naming the plaza after the Apgar family, noting the family’s longstanding photography business (before Tom, it was run by his father Pat and grandfather Ross), support for Bobcat volleyball, the late Dorothy Apgar’s tireless efforts as a local historian and John Apgar’s time as a lifeguard and pool manager.

“Tom, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for your time, your support and your financial contribution as the dream that I’ve had, we’ve had for the past 12 years in providing a place for safe outdoor activities is starting to take a step closer to becoming a reality in the form of the Apgar Family Water Plaza. Please vote yes,” Bauder said.

Jim Shaw shared his frustrations with his own efforts to honor his late wife through the naming of a dog park in her honor back in 2009 because he was told by former Parks and Recreation Director Terry Gray that city parks and facilities could no longer be named after individuals.

“I know you’re gonna do it and I don’t really have anything to say other than that other than it’s just not sitting real good with me,” Shaw said.

Doris Kinnick hoped the four children who drowned in the Iowa River back in 2012 would be commemorated in some way at the plaza, and Danielson responded that she and Hall, along with Ladehoff, have been in contact with several of the families and even visited the Theravada Dhamma Society just outside of town to attend one of their services, where they connected with three of the late children’s families.

“We haven’t forgotten those kids. I think Amber’s gonna be working with one of the Burmese sculptors, possibly, to come up with something that’ll be representative for the children we lost so many years ago,” Ladehoff said.

Lonnie Hogeland spoke on the history of the old Crosby pool, with the name now living on at the Crosby Park apartment complex near the American Legion Golf Course, and felt that naming the plaza after the Apgar family was a great decision. He added that he would like to buy BPW Park, which is currently for sale, so he could name it after his late father and his late son.

A motion to approve the naming passed by a unanimous vote. Greer had the last word and commented, while becoming visibly emotional, that “it’s fun to watch things come around.”

Apgar spoke to the T-R briefly before departing the meeting and weighed in on why the naming of the water plaza meant so much to him.

“It honors me because my brother and I were swimmers, and then we became lifeguards and then he became city manager of the city pools,” Apgar said. “We’re resurrecting my brother, the Apgar name, associated with water, plaza… Amber and John have this really talented award winning artist, Hilde (DeBruyne), and I”m really looking forward to what she can do to elaborate a little bit more not only about my brother John but my mother Dorothy, who was the town historian, so to speak. So I’m looking forward to that part of it yet to come, and that will help solidify the Apgar family legacy at the Apgar Family Water Plaza, which makes me tremendously happy.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved the consent agenda as listed.

• Approved an application for a city license for garbage and refuse, recyclable and yard waste hauler for L Hogeland Auto Plaza LLC.

• Approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with Bolton and Menk for the Main Street reconstruction project.

• Approved a real estate purchase agreement with Linn Street Properties for 411 W. Linn St.

• Approved the amended and restated plan for the Marshalltown Urban Revitalization Area No. 3.

• Approved the second reading of an amendment to Chapter 156 of the city zoning code related to ground solar arrays.

• Approved the first reading of an amendment to the city code related to peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment designating an area of Marshalltown as the Marshalltown Urban Revitalization Area No. 3 and subsequently waiving the second and third readings.

• Went into a closed session to discuss real estate at the end of regular business.


Contact Robert Maharry

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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