A statehouse ceremony on Tuesday recognized three Iowa communities that’re part of the state’s “Great Places” initiative. Clinton, Coon Rapids and Sioux City were chosen last October as recipients of state grants to help the towns develop new plans to foster cultural events and destinations.
Governor Tom Vilsack says it takes more than a job, it takes cultural and recreational opportunities to convince young people to stay in Iowa after they finish college. “For the first time in 70 years our state has reversed the outmigration that has occurred and we actually are now seeing more college-experienced workers, young workers in our workforce than ever before,” Vilsack told the community leaders who gathered at the statehouse Tuesday. “Your work has made a difference and will continue to make a difference.”
Vilsack has asked lawmakers to provide another one-and-a-half million dollars next year so the state can designate other communities as “Great Places” grant winners. “My hope is the legislature will respond,” Vilsack says. According to a news release from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Clinton plans to transform a current scrap yard into a multi-station community exercise area; create a distinctive boardwalk with restaurants, entertainment and carnival rides; renovate its unique one-thousand steps site; and expand walking and hiking trails in Eagle Point Park. The Coon Rapids plan calls for “enhancing the existing beauty and utility of Whiterock Conservancy,” through reworking trails, developing campgrounds and building a new paved parking lot.
The plan also calls for creating a recreational loop around Coon Rapids to provide access to Whiterock for pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and visitors with limited mobility. The plan includes the development of fishing ponds, an Osprey Project, bike and pedestrian-friendly streetscaping, and more, including the cultivation of “Dark Skies Protection” and purchase of a telescope. According to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Sioux City plan focuses on creating recreational trails and new “wayfinding signage” in the downtown area; transforming the existing stockyards area into a more aesthetically pleasing and functional area for recreation and historical preservation and creating a Sioux City School of Architecture “that capitalizes on the community’s unique terra cotta ‘brand.'”