Cedar Rapids plans to spend up to $400,000 on new welcome signs, landscaping

City has set aside property taxes for beautification project

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For the past two years, Cedar Rapids has setting aside property tax dollars for the "City Gateways Enhancement Project."

As much as $400,000 will pay for new city welcome signs and fresh landscaping. 500 city residents answered questions in an online survey about what they want that signage and landscaping to look like. Now, through a partnership with Kirkwood Community College, those preferences could soon become a reality.

How do you know you've reached the city of Five Seasons? When you pass the industrial stretch off Highway 30? Or when you see a sign on interstate 380 warning you about traffic cameras?

"Appearance, especially for people visiting. What's their impression of Cedar Rapids? asked Cedar Rapids Community Development Planner Jennifer Pratt.

The city's been saving up cash to make sure that impression is good one.

"It would definitely make me feel a little more welcome, said Kirkwood Community College student Justin Myers of Keokuk.

These Kirkwood Community College students put those ideas to paper.

"We wanted to show the industrial side and some of the hometown feels of Cedar Rapids, said Myers.

Students pitched their ideas to a handful of city leaders on a special beautification task force.

"We're looking at a couple of major gateway signs as well as looking at how whatever design is chosen then we can take that and do it on a smaller scale to maybe have throughout the city, said Pratt.

"An architect has to look at it and an engineer to get its stamp of approval, said Myers.

But it's more than just an idea for a makeover. Now, city leaders have the dollars and designs.

The goal, Myers said, is to "make Cedar Rapids a more inviting and interesting place to be.

The special task force will pick one of the student designs and the city council will vote on it. The goal is to start construction and have a sign up by late summer or early fall.

Maintenance costs will depend on which design is chosen and how much of the general fund dollars will support the gateway project in the future.

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