The Enhance Iowa Board approved grants for 3 cities Wednesday for a nature center, aquatic center and museum.

Iowa Economic Development Authority spokesperson, Jessica O’Riley, says the Sioux County Nature Center in Hawarden received the largest grant of $600,000 for the new center which will have educational exhibits and some outdoor space. The county is spending $4.2 million overall on the two-story nature center at Oak Grove Park.

“They’ve been working on that project for a long time…the finally have a lot of their funding in place and they are ready to move forward,” according to O’Riley.

The Sibley Aquatic Center also received a state grant. “That was awarded $250,000 for the complete renovation of their pool,” O’Riley says. “They are adding all sorts of amenities.” The application says the Sibley Aquatic Center will feature a new splash pad, water play structures, water bench, sunshades, a water therapy seat, volleyball net, lap lanes, log roll, climbing wall, a drop slide into the pool, and three-quarter-meter diving stand.

The project also includes the complete remodel, rehabilitation and reuse of existing pool facilities like parking, concession stand, and bathhouse, and replacement of the existing clubhouse with a new facility that will host community celebrations, meetings and special events.

The Traer Historical Museum won a grant for its facility. “That’s a $26,000 grant to the museum to upgrade their exhibits and some of their HVAC system and just an overall refreshing of that building,” O’Riley says. The refresh includes new display cases, a security system, smoke alarms and lighting.

O’Riley says the grants are usually around 18% of a total project. “Before they can even come before the board they need to have at least 50% of their total project cost raised,” O’Riley explains. “And to be more competitive, they typically need to have 75 to 80% of their funds raised before they even come before the board.”

The Enhance Iowa Board awarded the grants as part of the Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Fund, which helps communities with the construction of recreational, cultural, educational or entertainment facilities that enhance the quality of life.