Cedar Falls beach house compromise in the works - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls beach house compromise in the works

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Three years ago, volunteers were sandbagging in Cedar Falls in an effort to keep flood waters at bay. Since the 2008 floods, one popular destination along the Cedar River has been missing:  the Island Park beach house. 

But getting a new beach house built has been an uphill battle. Last fall, a group supporting the beach house rebuild thought it was a done deal.  But when the final decisions came before the city council, it voted the proposal down.

Since then, the experts have gone back to the drawing board and feel like a good compromise has been reached to get a new beach house built at Island Park in Cedar Falls.

For decades, many families held weddings and parties along the Cedar River at the Island Park beach house.  But in 2008, that facility was inundated with flood waters and later had to be torn down. When looking to rebuild, it quickly became evident that a new beach house built to the 500-year flood plain standards wouldn't come cheap.

"An elevated structure with ramps and fire protection was approaching a million dollars," said Mark Ripplinger, director of the Cedar Falls parks department.

Even with private fundraising, the cost was tough for some city council members to swallow.  But they were agreeable to building a much cheaper at-grade shelter facility.  This week, the board of adjustment agreed to a compromise:  a shelter that could include concrete walls and floodable windows.

"The facility will still be flood proof, you know.  We'll have to have permanent openings in the facility to let water go in and out.  The wall strength will have to be engineered and certified to withstand flood flows," said Ripplinger.

Throughout this process, members of the North Shore Boat Club have been among the strongest supporters of building a new beach house here at Island Park.  But after the council denied the kind of facility they wanted, they now don't want to comment on the city's new proposal for an at-grade shelter.  They're just cautiously optimistic that some kind of new beach house will be built at Island Park.

And the parks department is hopeful that the compromised beach house plan will get the green light from the council when it comes up for a vote.  The first discussion on the new plan will likely come before the council late this month or in early July.

Currently, the city has about $250,000 in FEMA funds to build a new beach house.  As of November, supporters of a new beach house had also raised about $100,000 in private funds.  But until a new facility is given final approval, those private fundraising efforts have been put on hold.

The proposal for the new beach house doesn't include a kitchen like the old beach house, but would likely have basic electricity and restrooms.

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