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Cedar Rapids breaks ground to revitalize Cedar Lake and connect it to Newbo and Czech Village

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The city of Cedar Rapids broke ground today for the Connect CR project that will bring recreational amenities to Cedar Lake and connect the Cedar Lake Trail to the southern part of the city with a pedestrian bridge.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Connect CR is a citizen-drive project that began with two groups of volunteers that merged 8 years ago under the same name as the project.

They came together to push the city for this project that is named for its goal -- to connect the city.

Construction has already started on the project and will take 3 years to complete it. When it's finished, it will be the realization of a dream that started back in the 1980s to bring people to Cedar Lake to enjoy nature and the lake itself. The newer piece of the project is to connect Cedar Lake Trail to Newbo and Czech Village.

Felicia Wyrick is a board member for Connect CR and one of the original volunteers with Friends of Cedar Lake, which joined with Connect CR.

"It's wonderful bookends to the downtown area because you start here, go down 3rd Street, you're in Newbo. You're in Czech Village, you're at the river and you can get across the river on the new bridge that we're proposing," Wyrick said.

That bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the Cedar River.

Thursday, private donors and city officials came out to celebrate the project that will add recreational amenities they hope will draw more people to the lake.

"This is gonna be a place for running, for canoeing, for people of all areas of the community to come together and to this focal point of just a beautiful natural area to enjoy," Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said.

The project also combines the city's flood control projects to protect the lake and area businesses and neighborhoods from floods.

A levee will stretch 2,200 feet along the west shore of Cedar lake and 21 feet above the water's surface.  

"It'll be ADA accessible. People will be able to go out on the water. We'll be able to enhance the true canopy to provide more of a natural setting for wild life, for people who enjoy being outdoors," City Council member Dale Todd said.

Some of the other planned amenities include a new east shore trail, launches for canoeing and kayaking, a pedestrian boardwalk over the lake, an obstacle course and fishing piers.

The Connect CR project will cost more than $20 million. Private donors gave $8.3 million to the project. The city of Cedar Rapids and the Hall-Perrine Foundation each gave $5 million and the state gave half a million dollars to the project.