Three more communities made new pitches for Vision Iowa money at the board’s meeting Wednesday in Des Moines. The Cedar Valley “River Renaissance Project” is an expanded version of a plan that won Vision Iowa funding once before, only to be turned down by local voters. Waterloo mayor John Rooff says that won’t happen a second time, because his city’s landed a federal grant and Cedar Falls and Evansdale are using private matching money.Rooff says the financial position is sounder, so this time they’re coming back to the table “with money in hand,” instead of having to ask taxpayers permission to spend money. Mayor Rooff says the community coalition is now asking Vision Iowa for 12-million dollars for an aquatic center in Cedar Rapids, an amphitheater and soccer complex in waterloo, and a skate park and new trail system in Evansdale.Rooff says the list is a series of amenities that will improve the whole Cedar Valley, and he says Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Evansdale and Black Hawk County all worked together to plan it. Cedar Rapids mayor Paul Pate says his town’s proposal, transforming an old industrial area into a family adventure park, is a better fit for the area than the “indoor rain forest” proposed for the area back when the Vision Iowa Fund was first created.He says “River Run for Cedar Rapids” is anticipated to bring 300-thousand people a year to visit and shop at the year-round city market, as well as creating space for new retailers and offices. Cedar Falls Mayor John Crews is well aware that applicants presented fifty-million dollars in proposals to the board this week, even though Vision Iowa has only 30-million left to give out. He says nobody expected to just come up with an idea and get a check, since no city’s gotten everything they asked for. Also on the table are requests for Clarinda and Shenandoah for money to build a reservoir in their southwest Iowa region, and an earlier application for riverfront development funding in Clinton.
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