The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

The downtown RiverWalk is real; City Hall committee readies to pick from five design consultants

In City Hall, Downtown District on April 19, 2008 at 12:49 pm

City Hall has seven different committees studying various pieces of downtown revitalization, committees that might not be in the limelight, but that, nonetheless, are marching ahead.

The committees are looking at issues related to downtown housing, train noise and congestion, an amphitheater, an event center, two-way versus one-way streets, a new Intermodal Transit Facility and the RiverWalk or riverfront park.

Steve Hershner, who is team leader of the RiverWalk task force, reports that his group in recent weeks received entries from 18 firms presenting their qualifications to help the city come up with a new definition of the Cedar River through downtown with trails, riverfront park and other enhancements.

The first phase of the work, expected to cost $150,000, Herschner said, will, among other things, identify the best place for a RiverWalk, a small outdoor amphitheater, trail connections, a trail bridge across the Cedar River at the base of May’s Island and open space.

According to the city’s proposal, the consultant also is expected to present a plan, to be built in phases, that can coordinate with a river feasibility study to be prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ study will involve both sides of the river from the Time Check Neighborhood to the city-owned Sinclair site.

The RiverWalk one day is intended to reach 7.5 miles in length on both sides of the river and reach to the city’s new urban fishery on the east side of the river. One idea is for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge from the popular Cedar River Trail to leap the river at the urban fishery downriver from the Sinclair site, Doug Neumann, president/CEO of the Downtown District, has said.

The five firms now in the running for the first phase of the RiverWalk work are:

— Bonestroo, St. Paul, Minn.

— Close Landscape Architects, Minneapolis

— EDAW Inc., Denver

— Hargreaves Associates, Cambridge, Mass.

— Sasaki Associates Inc., Watertown, Mass.

Interviews of the five firms will take place over the next two weeks, Hershner said.

City funds approved by the City Council for the budget year beginning July 1 will pay the $150,000 contract, Hershner noted.

This next week is slated to be the last for this session of the Iowa Legislature, and local leaders will be watching to see what money or opportunities to compete for funding might be available for Cedar Rapids’ downtown and riverfront revitalization.

  1. I would hope the City repairs the levee along river before they spend millions of dollars on cosmetic improvements. The levee needs major repairs and failure of it coulc destroy a neighborhood and much of the downtown area. What’s the Priority?

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