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Rose elaborates on Central Park renovations

Central Park downtown will see numerous changes in the coming years. Photo by Tela Ebersole.
Central Park downtown will see numerous changes in the coming years. Photo by Tela Ebersole.
Central Park downtown will see numerous changes in the coming years. Photo by Tela Ebersole.

Ronnie Ruse

Central Park will soon undergo some major renovations. The 3 million dollar renovations are slated to begin as early as Tuesday, May 17, with a tentative completion date of June 1, 2017.

Plans for the park renovations began in 2005 as part of Grinnell’s Master Parks Plan. After planning sessions and public input, a plan was finalized in 2007.

“Since 2007 we’ve been working on a lot of public input forms, getting feedback, seeing what is most needed,” said Grinnell Parks and Recreation director Kelly Johnson Rose.

“The park is beautiful the way it is, but we want more people to be able to utilize the park — more events and activities to go on there. We feel some of these renovations will definitely allow for the townsfolk and for people from out of town to come and visit in Grinnell,” Rose continued.

Rose also discussed some of the specifics of the renovation project, which include a new amphitheater stage area for bands and performers.

“The stage area will be about four time the size of the existing gazebo,” Rose said. “The gazebo will remain in the park, but it will be moved about 180 feet to the south and have its own dedicated area … It will look exactly the same, but it will meet some ADA compliances.”

The renovations also include new playground equipment and a new, exciting colored LED lights water feature.

“In the center plaza area will be a water feature. It will include water jets set in concrete that will have some LED lights and will be able to be set to what we call a ‘play mode’. It will have a pattern to the fountain going off. It will have a light show that can continuously go,” Rose said.

In addition to entertainment, the park will include more practical renovations in response to public input. The renovations will address residents’ desires to see more nighttime lighting, public restrooms and more accessible sidewalks in the downtown and parks area.

A shelter area will also be built, which will include heavy-duty picnic tables, two public restrooms and a drinking fountain.

“Lots of additional sidewalk will be added throughout the park, for easy mobility, along with the continuation of the ten foot perimeter sidewalk along all four sides of the park,” Rose said.

The renovated park will boost more trees, shrubs and lighting.

“We will have a lot of nighttime lighting that will help with the security of the park. We want to make sure people feel comfortable coming at all times,” she continued.

The city hopes that with the renovations, the new park will increase tourism to Grinnell.

“We think change is a good thing. … A lot of our funding is coming from State of Iowa tourism grants. The project has a 3 million dollar price tag, and about two million of that is money that specifically has to do with tourism,” Rose said.

Rose also addressed concerns over the Veterans Memorial building being torn down as part of the renovations.

“That building was built on city property in Central Park. But there is a Veterans Commission … this commission is in complete control of that building,” Rose said. “Right now we all are sitting back waiting for the Veterans Commission to make their decision — if they’re going to be able to raise enough money to renovate it, if they choose to turn it back over to the city. … We as part of the Central Park Planning Committee don’t have the authority to do anything to the building. We are renovating right up to the edge of the building.”

Detailed plans of the Central Park renovations and project timeline are available on the City of Grinnell website:

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