North Liberty Seeks Public Input on West Side Park Project

By Hayley Bruce, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Officials with the city of North Liberty are hoping to get public input on plans for the city's newest park.

Though the North Liberty City Council will vote to approve a construction company for the first phase of the West Side Park project at tonight's meeting, — which includes building a 700 foot driveway into the park, seeding, grading and storm structures that will channel runoff into large pond — the parks director is hopeful phases II and III of the project will be approved soon.

City officials are hoping phase I of the West Side Park Project, a 40-acre plot of land along St. Andrews Drive, will be ready in time to host the town's annual Blues and BBQ festival this May.

"Our hope is to get this set up so we can host...functions that require set up, so we don't have to go in there and start over every year setting things up," said North Liberty Parks Director Guy Goldsmith. "Instead of having a portable stage come in, we'll have a permanent one."

North Liberty has previously hosted the Blues and BBQ festival at Penn Meadows Park at 350 E. Penn St., and, if the construction is not complete due to delays in weather, Goldsmith said they will host the festival at the old location.

"We have a plan B if this doesn't go," Goldsmith said, adding that if they need to keep the festival at Penn Meadows, they will need to find a new fireworks location. "We're giving this a month to see what will happen out there."

Goldsmith said construction on Phase I of the project is expected to be complete May 22. Blues and BBQ begins on May 25.

Though there were six bidders on phase I of the project, City staff has recommended Dave Schmitt Construction Company to be approved by the city council. The city's engineering estimates indicated this phase would cost $335,000. Schmitt's estimate came in just over $266,000.

Goldsmith said he will be happy if the city approves Schmitt as a contractor, because he was satisfied with other work he's done in North Liberty, including a rain garden and concrete parking lot put in at Penn Meadows Park.

Phases II and III of the West Side Park Project will be approved and completed as funding is available. A preliminary master plan, provided by the city, shows plans for a shelter with restrooms, band stand, playgrounds for various ages, climbing rocks, swings, parking spaces, a picnic shelter, perennial garden, detention pond and vendor staging area.

City Administrator Ryan Heiar said that these plans are only a concept, and, after receiving feedback from the public, the city officials will refine the concept to present a final master plan. He also said that the park, currently being referred to as West Side Park, will eventually be given an official name.

The city is also inviting the public to the North Liberty Community Center, 520 W. Cherry St., on Wednesday in order to gain community input on a vision for the master plan of the park. Residents are invited to stop by anytime between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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