Council seeks flood money

BY AMANDA McCLURE | MARCH 24, 2009 7:30 AM

Iowa City may receive funding for continued flood relief with the application for a federal grant.

The Iowa City City Council will announce its application tonight for the money from the Economic Development Administration for the replacement of the Park Road Bridge, the elevation of Dubuque Street, and the relocation of the North Wastewater-Treatment Plant. All were damaged in last summer’s flood. The council will discuss the funding tonight at its meeting.

Estimated cost for the three projects is between $80 million and $90 million. Representatives from the council presented the projects to officials in Washington, D.C., in February in hopes of additional federal funding, but federal officials have not made a decision.

“When we were in D.C., there was mention that the economic administration may be able to help fund our projects,” Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey said. “Of course, it wouldn’t be the whole cost, but any portion would help greatly.”

The proposed 1-cent local-option sales tax would help if the grant requires the city to match the allocated funds.

Continued discussion regarding city funding for a sculpture in Waterworks Prairie Park is also on tonight’s agenda. The council voted to fund the $80,000 piece of artwork as part of its 2010 budget at its March 10 meeting, but the councilors have since decided to place the sculpture in a prioritization process that may remove it from the budget. The three free-standing components of the sculpture are trees and are designed to blow in the wind.

“I think deciding what to do with the sculpture is definitely going to cause more budget issues,” Councilor Mike O’Donnell said. “It’s a matter of deciding what to do with the $80,000 if we decide to not fund the sculpture.”

The council will also have the first of three discussions on the location of the Iowa City Farmers’ Market. A proposal would move the market once a month to a site that would be a four-block open area on Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street.

O’Donnell said he is favor of keeping the Farmers’ Market at its current location in the Chauncey Swan parking ramp because of parking and weather-related problems that could arise downtown.

“You’ve got a roof over your head on a rainy Saturday morning, and the parking issues are much better down there,” he said.

Some vendors have expressed concern over moving the market, noting weather issues.

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