Neighborhood Protests Kill Cedar Rapids Rec Center Plan

By Rick Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Cedar Rapids City Council member Ann Poe says the city will pull the plug on its new plan to build a west-side recreation center in the 8.5-acre Cleveland Park in the 1600 block of First Avenue West.

Poe, who is co-chair of the city's site selection task force for the rec center, said on Thursday that she and other members of the task force heard the message from the 100-plus neighbors living around Cleveland Park who turned out at a special city neighborhood meeting on Tuesday evening to voice their objections to a Cleveland Park rec center.

"Members of the task force heard pretty loudly and clearly that the neighbors really don't want the rec center in 'their' neighborhood park, " Poe said. "So we listened to them."

Poe, who grew up along the Cedar River in the Ellis Park area, said she spent Wednesday visiting seven potential sites — some suggested by the Cleveland Park neighbors — for the new rec center, which will replace the flood-ruined and now-demolished Time Check Recreation Center.

After her site visits on Wednesday, Poe said she said the perfect site is one that has recently been under serious consideration by the task force — the spot next to Ellis Park that currently is home to the park's maintenance facility.

The task force set this option aside because of the additional task of finding a new place for the maintenance facility. However, Poe said the existing facility is aged, and she thought the city could move the operation elsewhere with a little "creativity."

"If you sit back and look at that location, it's absolutely lovely," Poe said of the Ellis maintenance site. "It's very, very pretty. The rec center could nestle nicely there."

She said the Ellis maintenance site meets many of the long-standing task force criteria for the rec center: it's out of the 100-year flood plain; it's accessible to busy streets, Ellis Boulevard NW and Edgewood Road NW; and it's next to all the existing Ellis Park amenities, which include swimming pool, tennis courts, softball fields, basketball courts and the entire park itself.

Residents around Ellis Park who objected to putting the rec center in Ellis Park have not objected to the maintenance site next to the park.
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