City of Dubuque staff see potential in public land surrounding Bee Branch Creek

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- The city of Dubuque has some ambitious goals for developing unused land along the Lower Bee Branch Creek, but those plans aren't concrete.

This illustration shows the potential for property the City of Dubuque owns along the Lower Bee Branch Creek. (City of Dubuque)

The land is located off Sycamore Street and then along 16th Street. Part of the land on 16th is a former junkyard, which the city is cleaning up using EPA grants.

Dubuque's Leisure Services Department created a plan with renderings showing what could go in these areas, including open green space, a playground, a kayak launch, and even a four-story building.

That building would house the leisure services department offices, as well as programming space. The renderings show the building with windows facing the creek and large decks.

Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware said, "we want to be able to have it so we have some spaces where we can be indoors, that if it starts raining it gives us places and spaces to get in out of the elements, the weather, and still keep doing those positive activities."

The department wants to be in a neighborhood where it can have a big impact. Ware said that location is the north end of the city.

"If you actually move an office and put it in a location, it can be then that you’re a part of a neighborhood and that’s what this would be," she said.

Ware does have some preliminary costs outlined for these ideas. The total construction costs, including contingency, come out to about $11.7 million. However, grants, donations, and other Bee Branch funding are available. That brings the needed funding to about $5.2 million.

The city council would have to make this plan a priority and designate funding for anything to happen. Ware said the city does have $200,000 set aside for planning of a maintenance building on the public property, but that's not available until the fiscal year 2024. It's up to the council to stick to that current schedule or accelerate it.

Still, people who live and work near the creek are excited by the plans. One woman said she believes the area needs more places for kids to play.

Dave Klavitter, Chief Marketing Officer for Dupaco, said, "this is, I think if they’re focused on the needs of the community and the neighborhood, a step in the right direction.” Dupaco has a branch location right next to the creek.

A full presentation about this plan can be viewed here. 

An illustration of property near the Lower Bee Branch Creek in Dubuque shows a large sculpture spelling out "Dubuque". (City of Dubuque)