Committee Plans Greene Square Park Renovation Project

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A group is rallying behind a big renovation project for Greene Square Park.

"The plan is to make this one large, cultural, interactive area," Doug Elliott said.

Elliott currently sits on the board of both the Cedar Rapids Public Library and the Museum of Art. He said representatives from both boards got together after the library selected its new downtown location.

"We got together and said, 'Now that we are going to be neighbors, how can we work together more closely?'" Elliott said.

They decided it was time for a park facelift. They organized a committee to get the job started.

"We got the immediate neighbors together and some of the other interested parties - the Economic Alliance, the city's Visual Arts Commission," Elliott said.

Architects with OPN Architects have drawn up a draft of what the park could look like once the project is complete. The estimated cost is about $2 million. Architects designed the plan based on research of other parks and destinations. Those include: Iowa City's Pedestrian Mall, the St. Louis Gateway Mall, and the Sculpture Garden in Des Moines.

OPN's Bradd Brown said it's been years since anyone made big changes to Greene Square Park.

"Quite honestly, when you stand in the park now, especially during spring or summer, the trees are leafed out. It's hard to see from the north end to the south end. There are a lot of things going on and that could be improved dramatically," Brown said.

The design includes features like a new splash pad and a new sculpture, but designers incorporated the old too. The diagonal sidewalk that many are used to will still be in the park, it will just look a little different. It will have a bit of an arch to it, leaving a bigger open area for bigger events.

"We took that diagonal walkway, which we've seen in many historic photographs over time," Brown said. "We wanted to maintain the historic walkway, we wanted to be able to create a larger green space."

"There's a possibility for putting a temporary skating rink as well," Elliott said.

"We have a series of seating elements that kind of reach back out towards the plaza of the library," Brown said.

Project leaders hope construction can start as soon as this September and wrap up by spring or summer of 2014.

"It's not that far away, in fact we would start sooner, except it's a busy park and there's a lot already planned for this summer, which is great," Elliott said.

Project leaders are quick to point out that this is just a plan, for now. They're more than willing to make changes as they hear the community. The group is inviting the public to attend a forum this Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art at 7 p.m. to learn more about the plan.

Representatives with the project said they were working on getting a fundraising group started. Project leaders said private donations would fund the renovations.
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