City planners ask for input about College District Action Plan in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Throughout campus, Coe College students say there are plenty of street lights. But once they step off campus it's a different story.

"Walking down First Avenue, away from downtown, there's not as much lighting,” Coe Freshman Cameron Heffernan said.

And that lack of light causes concern.

"If you are on any of the side streets it's way too dark to feel safe,” Heffernan said.

The number of city street lights was just one of many topics discussed at a city-organized open house. There, city planners asked students and neighbors for safety suggestions. The planners also addressed how they're working to solve these concerns.

"Specifically to address the street lighting, the city is doing a study to see what issues are out there and how it should be addressed,” Planner Adam Lindenlaub said.

Other issues included easier access to public transportation and increasing pedestrian safety in the College Core District. That area ranges from Coe College to Mount Mercy University, and includes the Mound View Neighborhood.

The city is drawing up a Pedestrian Safety Master Plan.

"What that'll do is look at areas such as First Avenue. We've heard there are issues with pedestrian crossings,” Lindenlaub said.

The city is involved with college leaders in these discussions. Staff recommends adding more entertainment options for students.

"Perhaps more retail coffee shops and restaurants in this part of the city,” Coe College spokesman Rod Pritchard said.

Tuesday night was the second time the city asked for suggestions from people living around the college campuses. City planners will host one more meeting sometime this spring.

After that, the planners will create a final College District Action Plan and present that to city council. Planners hope to have the plan approved by fall 2018.