IC officials eye south wastewater plant completion


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As Iowa City moves closer to completing flood recovery, one prominent project is still missing a crucial component: additional funding.

The Iowa City Wastewater Treatment Facility Project, which aims to rectify damage from the 2008 flood, calls for the elimination of the north plant, 1000 S. Clinton St., and centralizing operations at the south plant, 4366 Napoleon St. S.E.

Now estimated at roughly $55 million, nearly three-fourths of the cost to date has been secured, but additional funds are being sought for the city-led development.

According to city documents issued Sept. 25, $850,000 in additional funds is being requested from the now-defunct I-Jobs program. The initiative, led by former Gov. Chet Culver, which aimed to strengthen the Iowa economy with infrastructure projects, was discontinued July 1.

The expansion to the south plant is set to be complete by April 2014, said Rick Fosse, the director of Iowa City Public Works, with the north plant scheduled for decommission soon after.

“We cannot decommission the facility until after construction is finished, and we are still finding funding sources for the demolition [of the facility],” he said.

Despite a lack in funding and a deadline fast approaching, Fosse said no additional project delays are expected.

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton agreed.

“I’m confident [the city and the city councilors] will figure it out,” he said.

A separate project, looming in the background, appears to be gaining legs.

Upon the yet-to-be-decided removal of the north wastewater treatment plant, further details about recreational offerings in the Riverfront Crossings District should be unveiled shortly.

A new park fronting the Iowa River is being formulated, and a request for design proposals will be sent out in the next month. Although it has yet to be named, city officials are eyeing the roughly $6 million project’s opening in the coming few years.

Funding for the project will come mostly from state and federal grants.

“I think the park will be interactive and active,” said Steve Long, Iowa City community-development coordinator.”

Long said a good portion will be recreating wetlands and restoring land to its natural state.

“I hope [the park] becomes a recreation area and a destination for the community and also serve as an education area,” he said. “Hopefully, it will also open up more access to the river and spur redevelopment around it.”

Together, the projects were funded in part by a former increase in the city’s sales tax.

After voters approved an increase in May 2009 to help flood protection and recovery efforts, the local-option sales tax dropped 1 cent, resulting in a fall from 7 percent to 6 percent on July 1.

To date, the tax has helped raise more than $34 million in flood-mitigation projects as well as providing subsidy funding for the plant project as well as the roughly $40 million Gateway Project on the North Dubuque Street.

One city official noted that the project is still developing.

“It’s all a bit fluid at this time,” wrote Jeff Davidson, the director of the city’s Planning & Community Development Department, in an email. “We want to start design this year, clean up the site next year, and phase in implementation over the next five years … We have applied for some grants for demolition, and the City Council may put some money toward demo.”

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