116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - A feasibility study released this week projects a ripple effect of millions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of new jobs if a Cedar Lake restoration project pans out.
The study, conducted by PROS Consulting, of Indianapolis, and released by Friends of Cedar Lake, found a high potential use of the amenities the restored lake would offer, such as fishing, biking, walking and kayaking.
'(The study) finds that Cedar Lake would provide an outstanding ... asset to the community of Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa through a celebration of the area's unique natural, cultural and historical resources,” the study states.
Approximately $84,586 annually would be needed to maintain the lake after it is restored. A master plan released earlier this year, estimates restoration of the lake, which served as a cooling pond for years for an adjacent coal-fired power plant, would cost $8.8 million.
Facility rentals, special events, and sponsorships would offset about 30 percent of the upkeep costs over time, according to the study.
However, the amenity could have a greater 'overall impact to the Cedar Rapids community,” according to the study. If paired and linked by recreation trails with another proposal - the Sleeping Giant pedestrian bridge between the New Bohemia District and Czech Village - the improvements would drive an estimated $17.5 million in revenue and an increase of 370 jobs, according to the report.
The estimates are based on a cumulative effect, with 'no specific time frame,” said Jeff Bransford, senior project manager with PROS Consulting.
This happens by creating a 'signature destination” that helps extend stays of business and leisure travelers.
'It is critical to be able to justify an investment of this type to the community,” said Dale Todd, president of Friends of Cedar Lake, which paid $12,500 for the study. 'The data backs up the anecdotal evidence that projects like these can truly make a difference in developing a destination experience.”
Cedar Lake restoration, which has been in discussion for decades, has some momentum behind it. The City of Cedar Rapids has said it is working toward acquiring the lake from Alliant Energy. The transaction to make the lake publicly owned is seen as a critical step for fundraising and landing state and federal grants.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is spearheading what is called a phase two brownfield test to study toxins in the sediment. City officials want to understand any liability before taking over the lake.