The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell honored as “Iowa Great Place”

Central+Park+will+be+one+of+the+primary+beneficiaries+of+the+grant+money+received+from+the+award+along+with+the+intersection+of+4th+Avenue+and+Highway+146.+Photo+by+Jun+Taek+Lee.+
Central Park will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the grant money received from the award along with the intersection of 4th Avenue and Highway 146. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.

On January 8, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs decided to name Grinnell as an “Iowa Great Place,” which comes with a $200,000 grant used to fund projects that help to further the livability of Grinnell. The award coincides with a three-year revitalization plan by the city, which aims to invest over thirty million dollars into the downtown area.

Six places this year were named “Iowa Great Places.” In total, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) gave more than $1.3 million in grant money to the selected cities and counties. Other places that received awards this year included the 6th Avenue of Des Moines, Linn County and the city of  Manning.

“These communities awarded funding recognize their own unique sense of place and we are proud to invest in projects that foster economic growth and enhance the cultural identity of Iowa,” said DCA Director Mary Cownie.

Grinnell City Manager Russ Behrens believes that the city’s recent efforts to make it more vibrant and livable, such as expanding the local recreation trail and improving the Spaulding Transportation Museum, helped to convince the DCA board that Grinnell will be able to successfully implement the proposed projects. Behrens said he thinks it is the close relationship between the city government and the business community that is key to the city’s competence in accomplishing change.

“They were able to see the ability of the community to set a goal and work cooperatively to attain it,” Behrens said, in reasoning why the board picked Grinnell over its competitors.

Central Park will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the grant money received from the award along with the intersection of 4th Avenue and Highway 146. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.
Central Park will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the grant money received from the award along with the intersection of 4th Avenue and Highway 146. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.

The money from the award will go to aid projects that fall within the city’s plans to renovate the downtown, and specifically towards two projects: improvements to Central Park and enhancing the entrances to the downtown at Highway 146 and 4th Avenue.

Central Park will be the main focus of the city in the near future, with officials using the grant money to provide better lighting, landscaping and pedestrian access to the park. Current plans also include building an outdoor performance space for entertainment and activities during the warmer months. In addition to these changes, the park will be given its own set of restrooms, which it currently lacks.

“We believe that these projects have broad benefits, especially Central Park. Central Park has served and will continue to serve as the cultural and social hub of the community for generations,” Behrens said.

While a lower priority than the Central Park renovations, improving the entrances to the downtown is another important use for the grant money. The city hopes to put in brick inlays into the sidewalks, much like in other areas of the downtown, and install better lighting. The ultimate goal of these improvements is to more concretely identify these spaces as entrances to the central business district.

Both of these projects are a small part of the larger overhaul of the downtown in the next couple years. Current plans outline the building of a new 64,000 square foot boutique hotel and convention space, along with the construction of 80 loft apartments and the renovations of 16 historic facades. Buildings in the area will also benefit from nearly five million dollars in public infrastructure investment, which will include private water and sewage lines.

City officials hope that these renovations will further Grinnell’s reputation as a strong and livable community, and that Grinnell will continue to be an “Iowa Great Place” for years to come.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *