Central City buzzing with activity

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By Robin Fortney and Bob Brammer


For the past dozen years, Central City has been revitalizing its relationship with the Wapsipinicon River, drawing more people back to the river again. Central City is a great example of an Iowa town that values its river.

In recognition of Central City’s concerted efforts, Iowa Rivers Revival, a group that advocates for rivers, has named Central City “Iowa River Town of the Year.”

When Central City became a “Main Street Iowa” community in 2000, it meant focusing on the town’s existing assets. Here are some of the projects Central City has done in recent years:

l After the flood of 1999, Central City responded by working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy out flood-plain properties and dedicated the land primarily to be riverfront parks. Brendel Park and Courtyard Park, on either side of the river, have steadily added attractions, including a basketball court, playground equipment, a splashpad and pavilions.

l Walking and biking trails continue to expand along the river. The river trail last year was connected to Pinicon Ridge County Park, which has eight miles of trails and the new Mary Lundby Trail Bridge that connects the east and west campgrounds, makes it an easy walk into town.

l More people are fishing, canoeing, walking, biking, kayaking, tubing and paddle-boating. The farmers market has grown steadily since 2001. “Central City Live” community concerts are held every Friday night in August. The Mainstreet Design Committee conducts a citywide cleanup each year of the river bank, trail, and downtown public areas.

More projects are coming. Trees and shrubs and native prairie-grass will be planted this spring. Linn County is looking at creating an Iowa water trail” on the Wapsi. There are plans for a new gazebo near the Main Street Bridge, a new band shell, a fish cleaning station at the south end of the trail, a handicap-accessible fishing dock, and new safety and interpretive signage along the trail.

The city has invested about $170,000 to address ammonia effluent limitations in wastewater discharge. The city is involved in an ongoing study, in cooperation with the DNR, to evaluate its wastewater treatment process.

All of these projects are a testimonial to the vision, leadership, hard work and remarkable collaboration of the community’s civic leaders, the Linn County Conservation Board and many other organizations and volunteers.

l Robin Fortney and Bob Brammer, both of Des Moines, are board members of Iowa Rivers Revival, a statewide river education and advocacy non-profit organization committed to protecting Iowa rivers. Comments: robert.brammer@gmail.com

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