No Solid Plans for Time Check Green Space Development Yet
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The planned demolition of an iconic Time Check neighborhood landmark in Cedar Rapids Wednesday morning may be the next step in bringing that flood-damaged area back to life. But behind the scenes, work is progressing to do something with all the green space in the area left behind after the demolition of damaged homes.
The A & W Family Restaurant on Ellis Blvd N.W. may start coming down as soon as 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Once leveled, it will join the list of 1,125 residential structures and 122 commercial buildings demolished as part of numerous flood buyout programs.
That demolition process left a lot of empty space between Ellis Blvd N.W. and the Cedar River. And plans to do something with the green spaces have been on the city’s parks and recreation drawing board for years. While nothing is set yet, neighbors in Time Check could start hearing some specific details later this fall.
Doug Wilson, capital improvements project manager for the city, said Cedar Rapids recently received approval from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to use $1.6-million dollars in leftover flood buyout money to begin removing streets, sidewalks and underground utilities from the green space areas that can never be developed again for housing or businesses. Wilson said there are no concrete plans, but he believes the city will go to residents in the Time Check neighborhood sometime this fall to start the process of talking about what to do with the green space. He said some of the actual work of removing streets, sidewalks and underground utilities could start next year.
Sven Leff, Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation director, said his department recently received funding to add a landscape architect. One duty for that new employee will be to work on developing appropriate uses for the green space in Time Check. Leff said any existing parks and recreation plan involving Time Check will need to be updated. But he doesn’t believe neighbors have radically changed their views on what they’d like to see.
“I think what they want, the elements may differ, but it’s a vibrant place and a place that’s attractive and proud as part of the recovery of the northwest area,” Leff said.
Wilson said the current thinking is the city would try to fit recreational projects like football fields, baseball diamonds and perhaps soccer fields into areas where homes no longer exist at all. The city would have to leave streets, sidewalks and utilities in place for homes that are still standing.
The area in question is largely north of K Avenue N.W. and between 1st and 5th Streets N.W. One early bit of feedback from neighbors is the need to keep O Avenue N.W. open as a direct link between areas to the west and 1st Street N.W.
Neighborhood activists like Linda Seger believe there is widespread support for the kind of recreational development that would bring kids to the area for organized sports. She said she’s had contact from Metro Youth Football about expanding to Time Check. She believes the neighborhood would welcome youth football.
“I think that would be a definite plus because we have a lot of youth right now who don’t have a recreation center and children need some activity. And I understand Metro Youth Football would be very open to scholarships for youngsters so they could afford to become part of the program,” Seger said.
Other residents said exactly what wasn’t as important as just seeing the green space used.
Business owner Al Pierson said “I think the neighbors agree, at least the ones I interact with, it would be a good idea to get kids down there playing football, soccer or whatever. Let’s use the space, let’s enjoy it.”
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