Developers of a project in Sioux City with a religious theme have declined state funding. The Vision Iowa Board had tentatively awarded the Shepherd’s Garden project $140,000 to help create a public green space in downtown Sioux City.
The Vision Iowa Board stipulated that the public funds could not be used for the area of the park that would include Christian symbols, but the award still drew criticism that it violated the separation of church and state. Developers of Shepherd’s Garden were able to get private donations to cover the state portion of the money and declined to accept the Vision Iowa Award.
A statement from the Iowa Economic Development Authority says the Vision Iowa board was attempting to help redeveloped an underutilized urban property without also endorsing a sectarian message. The statement says the funding from the Shepherd’s Garden project will now be available to assist other deserving projects.