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New park under construction in Riverfront Crossings

BY ALYSSA GUZMAN | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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A location previously occupied by a recycling center and a wastewater-treatment plant will soon be transformed into a new park.

The park, to be located in the Riverfront Crossings District, is designed to mitigate flood damage in that part of Iowa City.

“We will purchase the City Carton property and create a park that is designed to flood,” said Jeff Davidson, the Iowa City economic development administrator.

After City Carton Recycling was sold to Republic Services, a new recycling company, city officials saw it as an opportunity to purchase the property.

Officials are trying to avoid having an abundance of expensive buildings get damaged by flooding.

“There are not any residents in this area, but there is flood damage that occurs on our City Carton property and the sewage-treatment plant,” Davidson said. “The park will basically be a flood-plain park, so the property floods during a major flood event.”

In order to ensure flood damage stays at a minimum, wetlands will be incorporated into the park once the demolition is finished.

The wetlands will help filter storm water and areas that flood.

“When you construct wetlands, it’s a system,” said Karen Howard, a city planner who oversees the park design. “You dig down into the ground, and you connect it with the groundwater and the creek system, and you plant appropriate plants.”

Currently, the park is being designed. Future plans include a boat ramp, community garden plots, a dog park, a zip-line tower, and an open lawn area, among other things.

Although the park will not be open for the public in the next year, all of the wastewater-plant buildings will be removed in that time.

In order to get the facility out of the area, officials have budgeted approximately $7 million.

“These parks are pretty expensive,” Davidson said. “This could easily be a $7 million to $10 million park when it’s all said and done.”

The state awarded the project a grant because of the flood damage in 2008.

“It was a grant program the state put together for all the places in Iowa that were affected,” Davidson said.

Though officials do have the funding for the treatment plant being removed, the process requires several different phases. The first was the removal of asbestos and mercury in the buildings, which was overseen by Ben Clark, the project manager and senior civil engineer.

The removal of the asbestos and mercury have been completed. Now, officials are working on the demolition project.

Before demolishing the buildings, Clark said, “guys come in and salvage any old equipment and sell it off or reuse it to try to promote recycling.”

The process of figuring out which contractor will demolish the buildings is still being determined, and officials will take bids from contractors on March 31.

“Right now, we have plans, and the contractors are looking at them and putting together a bid,” Clark said. “They submit their bids, we review it, and award it to the lowest bidder.”

Whoever wins the project will work through the summer, and the demolition will be finished in the fall to create a grassy field.

“The next time it floods, there won’t be as much damage,” Clark said.


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