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Pocket Park Creates Relaxing Spot for Marshalltown Business District

Located just down the block from the iconic Orpheum Theater, the Gallery Garden Park in Marshalltown, Iowa was built on the site of a former historic building that was destroyed in a fire. Under new ownership, the now vacant lot was viewed as the prime location to create a mini-park for public use.

Snyder & Associates was brought on board to provide civil engineering and landscape architecture on this ambitious project. This elaborate space features not only tables and seating but also a sunken plaza with an evaporation pool and an elevated water fountain feature for noise masking. A vertical Live Wall garden is ringed by elevated planters around the perimeter and a large, steel pergola creates a shady space for relaxing.

“Green” Elements Create a Sustainable Environment

A waterfall feature at the heart of the park creates a welcoming spot in downtown Marshalltown. Photo Credit: Marshalltown Convention & Visitors Bureau

As our professional landscape architect, Don Marner points out, this park also provided the opportunity to include “green” elements in the design and address stormwater issues that had plagued the area in the past.

“This project is very unique,” said Marner. “Rainwater is captured from the roof of the adjacent building, then stored in harvesting tanks that were buried on-site, then this water is pumped to service the central water fountain and irrigation of the Live Wall and landscape plantings. A water line is not part of the improvements, meaning all the water for the site comes from captured stormwater.” The further addition of permeable pavers and a bio-swale rain garden with native Iowa plantings also promote water infiltration.

Marner further identifies other sustainable features. “The pergola supports solar panels, which provide shade for the patio and also provides electricity for the central water fountain and lighting of the pocket park.” Producing roughly 7,000 watts of electricity, the 32 photovoltaic panels result in the park having a net-zero impact.

The green infrastructure elements included in our park master plan also resulted in the project receiving a grant. “The grant was secured from the Iowa Economic Development Authority,” said Marner. “The owner also paid to cover the cost, while the City of Marshalltown also participated, assisting with costs associated with storm sewer improvements in the parking lot.”

Innovative Pocket Park Inspires Community & Viability of Downtown

The Gallery Garden Park has proven to be an invaluable addition to the Marshalltown community. It provides a relaxing place for downtown shoppers to rest their weary feet, while local workers can take advantage of the serene space during a busy day to enjoy a quiet lunch. This beautiful mini-park has been incorporated into many community events and even exhibits public art displays throughout the year.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Gallery Garden Park. Photo Credit: Mike Donahey

“This pocket park is privately-owned but available to the public,” said Marner. “The owners are very committed to downtown viability and the community and are extremely excited about how the community has embraced this project and space. I believe there will be more opportunities to recreate public space in downtown areas and this project is an example of how a successfully designed space can be an attraction and bring people together.”

The engineering team and landscape architects at Snyder & Associates pride themselves on leading the way with innovative and unique design concepts. The pocket park is just one more way we’re able to bring projects to life that improve the environment for our communities. Contact our experts today if you’d like industry-leading guidance for your next park project — big or small.