Every time I take a History Center tour I’m inspired by the early leaders in Cedar Rapids. They had confidence and vision for our growth. Cedar Rapids was often scorned by friends in Iowa City for being unsophisticated. With the increase in our bicycle trails, the development in NewBo and the renaissance of our downtown I am finally hearing positive words about our city from outsiders.
I now see changes in downtown that don’t match our positive momentum; the ad hoc approach to changing directional lanes, the removal of stoplights (endangering visually impaired residents and seniors), and the renewed discussion of a casino top my list of frustrations.
I heard a mayoral candidate say something like ‘Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in the state and deserves a casino.’ This statement assumes that a casino is something to covet. Perhaps this candidate has not noticed that casinos are generally a last resort by communities desperate for new development. I can’t think of flourishing communities that welcomed a casino. A casino is one of the few businesses that feels a need to pay a city; indicating they realize a casino drains community resources.
Cedar Rapid is rebounding. I can’t imagine why anyone would become mayor if they lack confidence in our ability to develop without a casino. The thing still missing from downtown is a focused family venue — perhaps something combining a science station, children’s museum and physical activities. That would be a positive investment consistent with our current atmosphere.
Karen Torno Fashimpaur