Street piano coming to McGregor's Triangle Park

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

A street piano will soon take up residence in McGregor’s Triangle Park, encouraging musicians passing by to share their talents with the community.

The McGregor Council unanimously approved of the idea at its May 18 meeting, after hearing from resident Sallee Scarff-Muehlbauer, who formulated the plan and will donate the piano. The park board has also given its blessing.

Scarff-Muehlbauer said street pianos can be found in cities across the country, including at least five in Iowa City, three in Mason City and over 10 in Des Moines.

“I think it would be a great asset [to McGregor],” she said. “I think people will think it’s cool to walk though the park and play.”

Some cities plan special events around their street pianos, Scarff-Muehlbauer said, so McGregor could also have people come and play.

The council members agreed it would be fun to try, with Janet Hallberg stating she thought it was a cool idea, while Rogeta Halvorson noted, “I like it because it’s unusual and eclectic.”

The street pianos are often painted in vivid colors and scenes, to stand out.

“I would love to see it painted flashy and crazy,” Scarff-Muehlbauer said of McGregor’s street piano.

The street piano will be placed at the front of Triangle Park, where the backless benches are located, Scarff-Muehlbauer noted. It will be secured to the cement, so it cannot be moved. She said there is even room for a second piano in the spot, if someone would like to add another.

Scarff-Muehlbauer said protecting the piano from weather and possible vandalism are the biggest concerns. She said it will have a covering to protect it from the elements, and hopes local residents, business owners or passersby will be willing to close it if the weather gets bad. The piano will be padlocked every night, she added, to prevent people from playing it at late hours and disrupting others.

Once the street piano is placed, Scarff-Muehlbauer said the plan is to leave it out until October. She will take it back to her home in the off-season.

Hotel feasibility study

The council approved having Hospitality Consulting Group perform a hotel feasibility study for the community, at an amount not to exceed $7,500. A date to conduct the study has not been set.

Once performed, the study will inform the city if constructing a new hotel at the former Holiday Shores Motel property will be viable or not. Updated statistics and financial analysis can then be used to recruit potential developers/investors or hotel chains to consider the location.

A hotel feasibility study was last performed in 2008, giving a favorable view of constructing a hotel in Marquette. 

“The 2008 study says there’s a need, and a pretty great need,” said Halvorson, noting that the study said more rooms could have been added at the Cobblestone Hotel in Marquette. 

Taking that into account, along with the loss of the Holiday Shores, Halvorson said she felt a new study would come back positively, showing a new hotel would be viable.

“The businesses are hurting now [with the loss of the Holiday Shores], and we need to take that next step,” she said.

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