In July 2018 a devastating tornado ripped through Marshalltown, IA. The town had spent years improving the quality of life for its citizens and implementing plans to revitalize the community, but, in a matter of minutes, it dealt with a major setback. As quickly as the EF3 tornado destroyed the town, the community was just as quick to start helping their neighbors, friends, and family rebuild.
At Bolton & Menk, we treat each client as if their community is our own. Many times, it is. This statement rings true in Marshalltown, as some of our team were born and raised there. Jim Harbaugh, a principal landscape architect, grew up in Marshalltown and was eager to help in any way possible. Harbaugh describes Marshalltown as a safe community with strong businesses, most with a lifelong commitment to the community. His knowledge of the town, personal connection to its special places, and an understanding of what its citizens value, proved valuable in the completion of the Highway 14 Corridor study.
As a gateway to the community and the heart of downtown Marshalltown, the success of the Highway 14 corridor study was critically important, even before the impact of the tornado. Many residents and local businesses depend on Highway 14 to be a multi-modal connection to downtown and the rest of the city. The outcome of the study developed a 20-year vision that would check all Marshalltown’s boxes for improving public safety, placemaking, and sustainability. In the aftermath of the tornado, the recommendations became increasingly relevant and instrumental in the rebuilding process that that will increase the vitality of the Highway 14 corridor and the successful rebuilding of the areas most impacted.
More than 800 participants provided our team valuable input during an extensive outreach process that was tailored to identifying the community’s priorities for improvement. Topics of reinvigorating impoverished neighborhoods, creating redevelopment opportunities, promoting economic development and creating a safe corridor for all users, were discussed.
Harbaugh’s knowledge of Marshalltown’s history, ability to relate to community members and engage in stories of local businesses and experiences, provided a personal touch to this plan. Knowing the nuances of different houses, businesses, and the community provides a priceless sense of trust and comfort for the town. This is a common scenario on many of our projects. The Highway 14 Corridor Study is just one example of how we personally invest ourselves into our work, and the clients we work for. We love the work we do but care even more about the communities we work for.
Ultimately, the award-winning study has laid the groundwork for creating a beautified, safe, and user-friendly corridor that will be impactful to the revitalization of Marshalltown.