Cedar Rapids Moving Ahead on Design of Post-flood Riverfront Greenways

By Rick Smith, Reporter

The Cedar River flows through Cedar Rapids on Monday, May 6, 2013. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Come June, six years after the city’s historic flood disaster, the city will have designs in hand for how once flood-damaged, west-side neighborhoods will come back to life as riverfront greenways.

The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve the selection of Confluence, a landscape architecture and urban design firm with offices in Iowa City and Des Moines, to create the designs for greenways in the Time Check, Kingston Village and Czech Village neighborhoods.

Nine firms competed for the design work.

A City Hall evaluation team with the help of public input scored each firm’s proposals. The evaluation team interviewed the three top-scoring firms and then selected Confluence to recommend to the City Council.

The total design budget for the three greenway areas is $140,600.

Sven Leff, the city’s parks and recreation director, said on Monday that the city’s contract with the winning design firm will call for the firm to spell out a timeline in which the greenways will begin to take shape and the costs associated with the transformation.

Leff said city money and private fundraising both will be used to help pay for the construction work.

"The construction will take a while, depending on funding — maybe as long as 10 years until there’s a complete build-out," Leff said.

The three west-side greenway areas are in stretches along the Cedar River where the city also will build its flood protection system. The construction of the greenway parks is not directly tied to the construction of flood protection, Leff said, but he said areas of the greenways farthest from the proposed alignment of the flood protection system will see the first construction.

Any work in the emerging greenways will be done with an eye to the coming flood protection system so no work will need to be undone, Leff said.

The greenways will feature both park and recreation space where, in the Time Check and Czech Village areas, there were homes ruined by the 2008 flood that were bought out and demolished.

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