Opponents Not Thrilled With Cleveland Park Recreation Center Location
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It’s almost “use it, or lose it” time for the federal funds to replace a neighborhood recreation center in Cedar Rapids. Despite the looming deadline, some neighbors are less than excited by the plan.
A city hall task force picked Cleveland Park as the site for the recreation center lost to flooding in 2008. Earlier plans to locate the center in the Time Check neighborhood along Ellis Blvd. N.W. fell apart when FEMA rejected the location. The federal agency is footing $3 million of the cost as a replacement for the original Time Check Recreation Center.
When FEMA rejected the Ellis Blvd site, the agency gave the city until the end of March to pick a new, more acceptable location. But some neighbors around Cleveland Park aren’t thrilled with the proposal and fear with the deadline approaching there isn’t time to thoroughly examine the location.
At just over eight acres in size, the park at the corner of 1St Ave & 15th St. S.W. is far from the largest in the city. In fact, it has room for a splash pad, a couple of ball diamonds and space for neighborhood-sized activities. The rec center plan proposed by the city would take up a quarter to a third of the park space.
One opponent, Gaylon Heetland, said neighbors just basically want to keep what they have now.
“This is a neighborhood park and we have one chance to save it,” Heetland said adding “that’s what we’re asking for — a chance to save it.”
Heetland and others who live on the edge of Cleveland Park have passed around petitions to stop the plan. Opponents said 270 people have signed so far. One objection is the impact on traffic.
But Don Karr, a Cedar Rapids Council Member and part of the task force, said he thinks a large parking lot would actually help by getting a lot of traffic off the street. Rather than hurting the neighborhood, he thinks a multimillion dollar center would be a plus.
“If I’m a young person wanting to buy a house and I see this beautiful gym and rec center my kids could go to in the winter I would want to live in that neighborhood,” Karr said.
But Carl Whiting, another opponent, said the lure of the federal dollars shouldn’t override a closer look at the impact of the plan.
“The $3 million, yes, it would be nice not to lose that. But should we spent $3 million because we hurried up and made a mistake?” Whiting said.
The task force picking a rec center location already has a meeting scheduled March 14th and the city council would presumably vote on the proposal March 26th. Opponents figure that’s all the time they have to change minds.
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