Government

Cedar Rapids City Council supports decision to delay zip line

Backers cite safety, finances, look to next summer

The Cedar Rapids City Council chamber at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The Cedar Rapids City Council chamber at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — City Council members stood behind a decision by the local tourism bureau to cancel plans for a zip line over the Cedar River this summer, after having advanced the project $250,000 from hotel-motel tax revenues last August.

“I may be as disappointed as you about the zip line. I really wanted to do that,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart told GO Cedar Rapids President Aaron McCreight at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “I understand the difficulties and that this was the right financial decision to make at this time.”

McCreight had been asked to appear at the meeting to explain to the council what happened.

“Due to many issues since last August,” it was decided last week it would not be feasible to put a zip line over the river this summer, McCreight told the council, calling it a safety issue and a financial issue.

He previously said an original vendor backed out of the project.

“We are still going to pay the advance back to the city,” McCreight said. “Regardless, knowing there will not be a zip line this summer, that will not change the payback structure.”

McCreight said it is the organization’s intent to do the zip line in the summer of 2019, adding he is actively working to lock in a contract.

As planned, the zip line would go from just north of the 16th Avenue Bridge on the east bank of the Cedar River to the grounds of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library on the west bank.

The GO Cedar Rapids agreement with the city says it will either repay the $250,000 by Sept. 1, 2018, or have its share of hotel-motel tax allocations reduced by that amount.

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GO Cedar Rapids, whose mission is to draw visitors to the city to help fill up Cedar Rapids’ 3,000 hotel rooms, has been receiving about $1 million a year in hotel-motel tax proceeds.

The zip line was to be a summerlong attraction loosely tied to a three-day festival called newbo evolve, which is scheduled for Aug. 3-5 and includes headliner musical acts Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. GO Cedar Rapids also is producing the festival.

McCreight said the festival and zip line had always been separate endeavors and despite the hiccups with the zip line, the festival remains on schedule.

Council member Tyler Olson credited GO Cedar Rapids for putting on the newbo evolve event “to highlight our community and bring folks in, particularly this year as we highlight the 10 years that have passed since the flood of 2008 and the progress we’ve made.”

Olson, who was not on the council when the deal was made, also credited the city for drafting an agreement that protected city interests.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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