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C.R. Among Thirsty Vision
February 12, 2006
[Note: This material is copyright
by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use"
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— The trips by Cedar Rapids delegations to Vision Iowa board meetings have
been numerous over the four-plus years the city has tried to figure out
how to get — and keep — a piece of the Vision Iowa action.
though, Cedar Rapids has appeared last or nearly so on the agenda at the
state’s board meetings as the city has struggled to keep its act together.
Now, the city
seems apt to relinquish its $5 million Vision Iowa grant unless the Cedar
Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fifteen in 5 community planning initiative
and some private big players join forces with the new City Council to show
they want to keep the money.
Vision Iowa board meeting, at the Hotel Pattee in downtown Perry, was more
of the same.
City Hall delegation, led by at-large council member Brian Fagan, sat for
more than three hours and watched as small city after small city came in
front of the Vision Iowa Board to sell fresh, smaller projects.
Each was seeking
a Community Attraction and Tourism grant, which the Vision Iowa board awards
as well as the larger Vision Iowa grants.
Then it came
time for old business.
were asking for extensions of completion deadlines. But all the projects
were well along, if not nearing completion — except for Cedar Rapids’ Cedar
Bend project, which has barely begun.
meeting in the hotel was held in a room with a C h i n e s e proverb imprinted
on the wall behind the board members’ chairs. The proverb reads, ‘‘When
you drink from the well, remember the well-digger.’’
When it was
his turn to speak, council member Fagan noted to the board that he had
stared at the proverb at great length and that it made him think of the
board as the well-digger.
he said, was engineering the Vision Iowa program and keeping it going,
rationing grants to the many communities who come to drink from the well.
there are a lot of thirsty communities,’’ Fagan told the board. ‘‘And we’re
not going to ask you to move forward on our project if we don’t have the
community’s full support.’’
He told the
board Cedar Rapids would know about the support by April.
Iowa board has handed out a total of $226.55 million — all it has — to
13 big projects across the state.
had $10.5 million when its brownfield/ landfill reclamation project was
called RiverRun. When that failed, the city ended with $5 million in October
2004 for RiverRun’s scaledback follower, Cedar Bend.
has barely moved since.
To date, the
city has paid a private fundraising consultant about $60,000 on the project,
and that fundraiser, Helen Arnold-Olson, asked the city to suspend her
contract when she found that no one wanted to donate new money to the project.
The city also
has paid a marketing firm about $50,000 to promote Cedar Bend and has paid
a design consultant about $133,000 to come up with a preliminary design
for Cedar Bend Lake. The lake, a former water-filled, industrial sandpit,
is one of three central components of Cedar Bend. A community center and
a park with trails are the others.
The lake consultant’s
work has only complicated the project. The $3.6-million lake — the least
expensive of the Cedar Bend features — now is expected to cost $8 million
to $14 million.
extra money would come from, when the entire Cedar Bend project was once
thought to cost $34 million, is a question the community will have to answer
in the next few weeks.
Scanner talk was ’unfortunate
use of words’
CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids
police said a senior police officer chose an ‘‘unfortunate use of words’’
when the officer radioed others involved in a traffic operation, ‘‘All
right, boys and girls, it’s all about quantity.’’
Chuck Mincks said the officer felt that three probationary officers, involved
in the enforcement project along Interstate 380, were taking too long to
comment was overheard by a scanner listener, who complained to police.
not required to write a certain number of tickets, Mincks emphasized, noting
state law forbids such quotas.
‘‘It was in
no way meant to be a condescending comment, nor an intentional reference
to quotas, and this officer has never had any problems with that before,’’
column is written by Gazette government reporters Rick Smith, Dick Hogan
and Zack Kucharski, with an assist this week from reporter Christoph Trappe.
The column appears on Sundays.