A community comes together: Central Division Martin Marietta team members help restore a local park

Four years after a natural disaster, with help from Martin Marietta and the support of a community that refused to give up, a beloved park is back open.

The Nicholson-Ford Off-Highway Vehicles Park is a beloved community recreational area tucked away on the Northeast edge of Marshalltown, Iowa.

A haven for off-road enthusiasts, this park boasts around 20 miles of winding, river-bottom trails that carve their way through lush woods.

But in 2020, intense and devastating windstorms left the park in ruins, with its signature trails choked by fallen timber and debris.

Now, four years after the natural disaster, with help from Martin Marietta and the support of a community that refused to give up on the greenway, the park is back open.

“This park provides a unique experience in the area, and we’re truly grateful to Martin Marietta for the opportunity to contribute to it,” said Cory Ratliff, an equipment operator at Ferguson Quarry who helped clean the area.

But it wasn’t as simple as picking up a few fallen tree limbs. The park was in desperate need of repairs.

When the initial cleanup process proved more dangerous than anticipated, a professional logging company came in to handle the significant timber work. However, the trails still needed specialized attention to ensure they would be safe and enjoyable for all riders.

This is where Martin Marietta’s quarries stepped up.

Committed to community engagement, the team donated almost 70 tons of rip rap and erosion stone, which was essential to rebuilding specific park areas and introducing new obstacles for riders to challenge themselves.

But their commitment didn’t end with just a material donation.

Matt Ammerman, plant manager, and a crew of volunteers from the Ferguson Quarry and Des Moines Portable #2 gave their time and expertise to work alongside the Iowa River Off-Highway Vehicles Club members, clearing the Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) trails from unsafe trees and limbs and ensuring that every rail path was perfect.

“Seeing our team’s enthusiasm and dedication toward community projects, especially with the UTV park initiative, reinforces our commitment at Martin Marietta to not just excel in our business but to make a meaningful impact in the communities we serve,” said Ammerman. 

The Iowa River Off-Highway Vehicles Club and Martin Marietta team members worked tirelessly to restore the park, securing a crucial grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. By the end of the efforts, the restoration cost amounted to an estimated $200,000 to $225,000.

“I am proud to be part of Martin Marietta and making a difference in our community through projects like the UTV park, and I’m excited about the potential for even more impactful future endeavors,” said volunteer and Equipment Operator Joe Hughlette. 

Thanks to the combined efforts of Martin Marietta and the broader community, the once-devastated park is alive with the sounds of revving engines and excited riders.

“The trails, tighter and more thrilling than ever, are a testament to the power of community collaboration,” said Lisa Tichy, weighmaster at Ferguson Quarry. “Nicholson-Ford Off-Highway Vehicles Park’s rebirth is a heartwarming reminder: no obstacle is too significant to overcome when a community comes together.” 

Volunteers from Martin Marietta help clean a beloved park in Iowa. From left to right: Matt Kopsa, Lisa Tichy, Matt Ammerman, Mark Gorder, Cory Ratliff and Joe Hughlette.