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

Community center/recreation center called a ‘Multigenerational Community Life Center’ in the hunt for $5.75 million for planning/design

In City Hall on April 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Throw it into the mix.

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department has gotten the paperwork together and is now joining a crowd of local entities in the competition to try to pry loose some post-flood money from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The city department effort is focused on garnering a $5.75-million EDA grant for what project backers are now calling a “Multigenerational Community Life Center.”

The life center project is one of the 15 in the community’s four-year-old, Fifteen in 5 initiative — 15 projects in five years. It often has been referred to as part community center and part recreation center.

In a memo to the City Council, Julie Sina, the city’s parks and recreation director, says the $5.75 million will pay for planning and architectural and engineering fees, but not the cost of construction.

Sina says the new structure could be a new home for what now is the flood-damaged Witwer Senior Center building, the flood-damaged Time Check Recreation Center and the worn-out Ambroz Recreation Center and Bender Pool.

As a Fifteen in 5 project, the community center-recreation center has had an active, dedicated committee studying the concept and promoting it. However, the project got pushed a little to the side as the city and community has worked to deal with the aftermath of the June 2008 flood.

The prospect of a federal EDA grant now has brought the project to the forefront again.

Three weeks ago, the City Council was asked to prioritize which projects it thought were most deserving of limited EDA money.

The council settled on a ranking that placed projects in this order: downtown steam system, first; a public fiber-optic system, second; the community center-recreation center, third, tied with a steam system for Mercy Medical Center; a steam system for Coe College and St. Luke’s Hospital, fourth; improvements to the U.S. Cellular Center and the construction of a new convention center next door, fifth; and a Regional Commerce Center, downtown freight rail planning and parking system upgrades, tied for sixth.

At the time, one local community leader noted that the city of Coralville already had secured an $8-million EDA grant.

On Tuesday, Ellen Habel, assistant city administrator in Coralville, said the city had not yet been awarded an EDA grant. She did say, though, that the city submitted its $7.16-millon grant last fall, has had a site visit from EDA and is now awaiting a decision.

The Coralville project would elevate the rail corridor along Highway 6 and incorporate permanent and removable flood protection into it to protect against a flood one foot above the 2008 one, Habel explained.

  1. Why don’t we put some of this Fifteen in Five proposals on the back
    burner for now and try to get flood damaged housing and public buildings taken care of?All I’ve seen,since the “big” flood,is more
    people,Council and City Department heads coming out saying that we need to build this new building or that new building.The ONLY new building that I will agree that we need is the Public Library.

  2. The most interesting part of this story, at least to me, isn’t that the money will be used for a 15-in-5 project, but that the $5.75 MILLION dollars will be used for planning, architecture, and engineering fees, and not a single penny will be used for construction. I can’t wait to see how the grant proposal actually justifies that kind of expense without a single grain of dirt being moved.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t much else in this story about which specific grant program the City applied to, if it has actually submitted its application, or the turnaround time for a response from the Feds. If the grant application by the City is actually approved, it’s a rather trivial matter to get a hold of a copy of the proposal from the Feds because of FoIA.

  3. “The council settled on a ranking that placed projects in this order: downtown steam system, first;”
    They ranked it first and didn’t have a clue what that project would entail. $5.75 million is a drop in the bucket to resolving the issue of steam. Alliant spent over $150 million to get the Prairie Creek station back up with coal fired boilers.

    “At the time, one local community leader noted that the city of Coralville already had secured an $8-million EDA grant.”

    So what? That’s taxpayer dollars, we need real leaders who are responsible with our tax dollars. The current mentality seems to be, “There’s money out there, and if we don’t try to get it someone else will.” That is not leadership, it’s following the crowd.

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