When it comes to community development, the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is often an underlying motivator. So, when it came to bringing the Murray recreation complex to fruition, not only did the “Village” of Murray step up, but organizations like the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC), DEKKO and Clarke County businesses took action to contribute.

In 2015, when the Murray recreation complex was first proposed, city leadership knew the development of a thoroughly updated sports complex would be a daunting ask for the community of less than 700. With city budgets already tight, the decision was made to develop the complex intentionally avoiding the use of city funds. That meant footing the bill for the development would depend on money raised through community donations, non-profit grants, and in-kind services.

“This was certainly a long time coming,” said Murray City Administrator, Denise Arnold. “But this community’s dedication to our children and their future has and always will be priority number one.”

Murray rec complex

Murray Development’s proposed recreation complex was designed to address a number of issues, but most importantly, to provide abundant sports and recreation space and access for local children and families. Their proposal started with the ball complex. The existing fields, located in the north end of the city woefully lacked the space and infrastructure necessary to support a growing community. So, in a land trade with Murray Development, a suitable area south of the community was acquired and designs and strategies were set in motion for future development. But first, there was some serious fundraising to be done.

Between 2015 and when ground broke at the new complex in 2017, the Murray residents, businesses, and local organizations came together to raise more than $750,000. While the majority of that came from DEKKO with a $500K grant, the CCDC with a $158K grant, and a $95K TAP grant from Chariton Valley, community donations pushed them across the finish line and funded the dirt work and development necessary to complete the ball fields as well as walking trails and parking at the new complex.

The next challenge in the development dream plan was to build a modern, fully functioning concessions facility. More than a few coolers and water fountains, the design of the Murray recreation complex concessions building would include high-capacity refrigeration, modern cooktops for hot food preparation, a multi-bay wash area, and the space to serve events of all sizes. The hopes of the development team as well as city leaders were to make the new facility available year-round for commercial kitchen use and facilitating new businesses, even offering opportunities for pop-up catering and special events.

With some money already on-hand from community donations, a challenge of a matching grant from DEKKO was announced in early December of 2022. By the 31st of that month – just three short weeks – the citizens of Murray stepped up providing more than $25,000 in additional donations including $9,100 of in-kind services, trade, and materials to meet the challenge. Finally, a Pillars grant in the amount of $50,758.51 from the CCDC locked in the amount needed to complete the new concessions facility.

“It’s heartening to see a community come together like this,” said CCDC board member, Doug Miller. “After almost 10 years of diligence and hard work, their vision deserves to be realized.”

With that, the CCDC’s grant committee waived their standard 30-day evaluation period and approved the request at the January meeting.

Murray Recreation complex concessions facility plan

While the concessions facility is slated to be completed by mid-Spring of 2023, Arnold says there’s still work to be done on the complex as well as other projects throughout the city.

At the complex, there are still sidewalks and an irrigation system to put in, but funds for that have already been set aside and those projects can be started. Other City of Murray projects in development include the potential of a new playground and splash pad at Mallory Park as well as implementing infrastructure for a housing development that will support 6 new houses being built.

If you’d like more information on the Murray Recreation Complex or ways you can help with the future development plans for the community, please reach out to Murray City Administrator, Denise Arnold, 420 Maple Street, PO Box 186, Murray, Iowa 50174, email: [email protected], or call Murray city hall at 641-447-2522.

Additional information on grant opportunities for Clarke County organizations can be found at the Clarke County Development Corporation’s website www.OsceolaClarkeDev.com or by calling 641-342-2944.