An eastern Iowa town that was inundated by the flooding Wapsipinicon River nearly 14 years ago is being honored today for its embracing of the waterway. The Linn County town of Central City is being named River Town of the Year by the group Iowa River Revival.
Bob Brammer is on the group’s board of directors and explains why Central City was singled out. “For around a dozen years, they’ve really done remarkable things with the Wapsi River that runs through town,” Brammer says.
“After the flood of 1999, they really turned a corner.” The award is designed to celebrate vibrant river communities across Iowa that are reclaiming river fronts as anchors for recreation, economic development, ecological practices and good water quality.
Brammer says Central City, located northeast of Cedar Rapids, has worked hard to earn the designation. “The city bought out more than a dozen properties right in town that were in the flood plain and were damaged and needed to be bought to protect the land from future floods,” Brammer says.
“That land has become riverfront parks, two or three parks on either side of the river and they’ve steadily added all kinds of attractions for youth and other people.” The properties along the Wapsi are now the setting for a host of popular community events, like concerts, a farmers market, canoeing fishing tournaments and more.
Other cities that have won the “River Town of the Year title include: Webster City, Elkader, Coon Rapids, Cedar Falls and Charles City.