City Asks Public for Greenway Ideas

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Wednesday night, city officials asked the public, "What do you want in a new city park?"

The 2008 flood destroyed hundreds of homes in the Time Check, Kingston, and Czech Village areas. Almost all of those homes are gone, leaving about 110 acres of open space or "greenways." The city wants to turn them into parks, but first needs to know what kind.

At a public input session at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library the city listened as people shared what types of park amenities they would like to see. Ideas included dog parks, skate parks, memorials, and football fields.

To help gauge the public's pulse, Cedar Rapids hired design company Confluence. The group used interactive ways to gather information like having people vote on possible park features, or letting people construct their own park on maps.

"Kind of like a puzzle. We've broken up pieces of the parks for neighbors, residents, to places those pieces based on their thoughts and ideas of what could go where," said Brian Clark, who works with Confluence.

The city expects to have a few more public input meetings in coming months. What officials learn will be turned into final designs for the three greenway areas.

"This process is relatively fast, with three public [sessions] through June. We should have park designs with a schedule of recommended construction in hand by the end of July," said Sven Leff, the city's parks and recreation director.

Leff said the city isn't sure what renovation of the greenways would cost until designs have been nailed down, but the project could take 10 years to complete.

Leff said there are some restrictions to what can be built in the greenways. Federal dollars were used to buy flood-damaged homes, so the building of permanent structures that could impede water flow during a flood is limited. That means chain link fences, dugouts and permanent bleachers are out.
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