City of Cedar Rapids Looks Forward to Big Year of Completing Flood Projects

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The beginning of 2013 marks the beginning of the end of flood-related construction projects in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Now that the holidays are over, crews are kicking off a big year. Work on the Convention Center Complex, the Downtown Central Library, the Amphitheater and the Central Fire Station will wrap up this year.

"[It] will be a big wave of the majority of our larger projects being completed," said Flood Recovery Project Manager Doug Carper.
In any given day, dozens of workers are at each of the construction sites. Carper estimates it's a total of about $40 million in construction. He said work is generally ahead of schedule at the sites, thanks to the dry fall weather.

"It will be a fun year," Carper said. "It's just significant for the amount of flood recovery work and it's a large step forward in terms of getting back to what the city was prior to the '08 flood."

The city said the downtown library, amphitheater and central fire station are set to open in August. The Convention Center Complex will also open at around the same time. In the new year, the city will nail down the exact dates of when the new attractions and buildings will open.

City council members say it's hard to believe the city has come so far. Monica Vernon remembers looking around during the depths of the flood.

"When we were looking at so many things ruined and so many things that had to be rebuilt and looking and saying, 'oh my gosh 2013 will be a great year,' but at that point it seemed so far away," Vernon said. "So, the fifth year after, things are really looking up."

Cedar Rapids Library Director Bob Pasicznyuk welcomes 2013 with excitement. He has been waiting for this for a long time, but knows there's a lot of work ahead. The library is also opening a new west branch this year.

"We need to restore our staff back to a level that can actually deal with two buildings and give the customer service they need," Pasicznyuk said. "We've got a myriad of books and moves to make. We're buying about 300,000 books. We've got over 100 computers to prepare for the public as well."

The director estimated that he would be looking to fill more than a dozen full and part time library positions.

Vernon also noted that the council is moving forward with other plans. Members are looking for someone interested in developing the Brosh Funeral Home lot next to the Newbo City Market. She also said 2013 holds plans to continue work on the Time Check Rec Center.
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