Corbett wants conditions if Penford buys park

City Council unanimously agreed to seek proposals for the purchase of Riverside Park

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Should the city decide to sell a public park to Penford Products Co., Mayor Ron Corbett Tuesday night said, he will push to retain the deed until the company decides and discloses the details of how it will use the land.

Corbett made the comment as the City Council unanimously agreed to seek proposals for the purchase of the Riverside Park. Next-door neighbor Penford has asked to buy the property so it can position itself to expand its corn wet milling business, and Corbett said he didn’t know if anyone else would be interested in the site.Proposals are due March 30 and a sale could come as early as June.

Council member Kris Gulick agreed with Corbett’s request that the city keep the deed to the park property in its possession even if it decides to sell to Penford so officials have some understanding of what will eventually go there.

Colleague Ann Poe, meanwhile, wondered why the city was buying out the Diamond V Mills office on First Street NW as part of its flood-recovery buyout program and yet was willing to let Penford expand into a riverfront park, which also is in the 100-year flood plain.

Christine Butterfield, director of the city’s Community Development Department, said the Diamond V Mills office along the river is in the way of the city’s proposed flood protection levee. In contrast, the Penford Products plant and the park next to it are slated to be protected by a flood wall close to the river’s edge.

Council member Scott Olson, a commercial Realtor, said the idea of a park sale and industrial expansion was controversial “but has potential.”

Tim Kortemeyer, Penford president and general manager, has said the company needs the extra space so it can court a partner to participate in a future expansion of its current business of making starch, ethanol and other biomaterials.

The expansion into the park would move Penford’s property up to the 12th Avenue Bridge. On the other side is the new site of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library on the edge of Czech Village.

The museum’s staff and board of directors have come out in opposition to Penford’s request, saying that the expanded industrial operation and any additional odors would harm the museum experience.

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