Cedar Rapids Parks and Rec considers improvements - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids Parks and Rec considers improvements

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- Continuing to recover from last year's flood, the city of Cedar Rapids is now set to make improvements to its Parks and Recreation Department.

The city is looking at several options, considering everything from reoccupying existing buildings, to building new structures.  Parks and Rec will be holding open houses next week to gather public input.  Ideas have been evolving over the past eight years.

"We have gone to seven different states, visited over forty facilities, gone to about four conferences to learn more about it," project coordinator Tom Saxen said.

Tom Saxen is talking about a proposed 245,000 square foot rec center in Ellis Park that he says would be much more than that. He has been volunteering for the last four years with a group trying to turn an idea into reality.

"I think this is something that fulfills the needs of the people and it offers a future for our town."

"I hope and pray it comes true."

Jim terhune spends much of his time at Ambroz Rec Center in its program for adults with disabilities. The 105 year old building has the only gym owned by the city.

"Get a bigger building because this room here is all we got," Jim Terhune said.

"It's the right project to do. It's a real uplift for this community to know that you have a beautiful complex like that here in town," city council member Justin Shields said.

The proposal isn't without its detractors. Some feel it's not the right time for something that's expected to cost over $80 million.

"We're not against progress. It's just until the housing issues are settled, it seems again a little premature," Frank King said.

"We recognize that jobs and housing are critical for this town, but we think that there can be other funding pools that are not directed toward those needs."

After years of waiting, it's nearing the bottom of the 9th for the rec center.  Next week's open houses will allow the public to help determine whether it's a homerun or a strikeout.

"This is the citizens' opportunity to really put their two cents into how they want their future to be."

Open houses to discuss all of the plans are next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel ballroom in downtown Cedar Rapids.  Tuesday's open house runs from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday's is over the lunch hour from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel
Online Producer: Mike Verlo
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