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Iowa City reaches milestone in wastewater plan

BY MEGAN DEPPE | FEBRUARY 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City officials have taken a large step in the continued development of the Riverfront Crossings District by shutting down the North Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant was shut down earlier this month, and all of its operations were shifted to the newly expanded south plant.

The plans for the two plants stems from the 2008 flood, in which the north plant was heavily damaged. The plan costs an estimated $50 million, said Jeff Davidson, the director of the City’s Planning and Community Development Department. The project received a $8.5 million flood-mitigation state grant in December to help with the demolition of the North Wastewater Treatment plant, which Davidson said helped the process along.

“[The funds] will speed up the process, because then we have the money to demolish the plant,” he said. The money will also help clean up the area after the plant’s demolition for the next phase of the project, which will create a wetland and a park.

Karen Howard, an associate city planner, said that after the north plant is demolished, the site will need to be cleaned before construction on the park begins. Some of the first park projects in the site will include the improvements to Ralston Creek, which flows through the property, and the development of natural wetlands near the confluence of the creek and the Iowa River. Other projects for the site are still being discussed.

Davidson said the city will enter “more of a public plan” process for the park. “My guess is that it would take between two to four years to actually build the whole thing out,” he said.

Iowa City has applied for the Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance program as well, which would provide technical assistance in developing a detailed park plan. There are no current park costs projected.

“[The project] could evolve over time, based on what the city or community want the park to be,” Howard said. “The main message is that we’re in the process of planning the park, one way or another.” Davidson said that the shutdown of the north plant occurred faster than the city had anticipated — officials had initially thought the shutdown wouldn’t take place until April — but the demolition of the plant was still on schedule.

“We’re still intending to schedule the demolition of the plant in the summer,” Davidson said. “Once we have bids received from the people who do the demolition.”


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