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Archive for May 11th, 2008|Daily archive page

PLAY ratcheting up profile for new ‘community life/recreation center’ with day of reckoning still ahead

In City Hall, Linn County government, Monica Vernon on May 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

PLAY in Linn County (Planning Life-long Activities for You) is ramping up its public profile.

It’s been at it for three years.

PLAY is one of 15 committees formed as part of a community initiative to accomplish 15 goals in five years – Fifteen in 5.

PLAY’s idea began as one to create a “state-of-the-art community center.”

The idea now has evolved into the development of a “community life/recreation center” that would be a new home to the Witwer Senior Center, operated by Linn County, and two aged, city of Cedar Rapids facilities, the 40-year-old, indoor Bender Pool and the Ambroz Recreation Center, housed in a 103-year-old former school. The group also is looking to add playing fields.

Its task is formidable going forward. It is talking about building an expensive building. It is expected that voters will need to approve some of the funding. And the group has to decide at some point where to put things: East side? West side? North side? South side? Westdale Mall? Inside Cedar Rapids? Outside Cedar Rapids? The Sinclair site? The Tuma site? Or a couple different places at once – playing fields one spot, a building somewhere else?

PLAY currently is conducting an opinion survey of Linn County residents to see what their interests and priorities are in relation to PLAY’s wish to build a new community life/recreation center.

With funding support from the city of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and others, PLAY also has a consultant working to prepare a feasibility study for such a center.

Additionally, PLAY has scheduled three public open houses in early June to give the public an update of where the group is in its plans.

The open house schedule is this: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., June 4, Kirkwood Training and Outreach Service Building, 3375 Armar Dr., Marion; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 5, the Armory at Cedar Rapids City Hall; 5 to 7 p.m., June 5, Teamsters Hall, 5000 J St. SW.

It appears Cedar Rapids City Hall has plenty on its plate. It is focusing on several costly initiatives to get the revitalization of downtown moving. Those include riverfront redevelopment, incentives for a new downtown housing development, the building of an Intermodal Transit Facility.

In fact, council member Monica Vernon asked last week about the PLAY effort and what it might mean for the City Council. A few city staff members are on the PLAY committee, she learned.

Vernon asked for an update from City Manager Jim Prosser on the PLAY idea.

She said she and her council colleagues needed information as they decide “how are we going to work with them or not.”

Vernon said the PLAY concept “is coming at us,” and she wondered “what do we all need to know to make some pretty big decisions.”