116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — The city of North Liberty is hoping to transform Centennial Park into a regional attraction for the Corridor.
A design concept for the $17.7 million project was presented to the North Liberty City Council this week. Proposed features include an event center, outdoor stage, open air pavilion, splash pad and garden to honor city veterans. City officials said they hope the project will draw more people to the city.
“This potential project is unique not only to the Corridor but we think to the region,”, City Administrator Ryan Heiar told the North Liberty City Council this week. “We think it'll be a draw to our community, in terms of tourism … (and) future growth.”
Heiar added that the project will be another tool to recruit and retain both employees and employers in the city.
The project is in the early stages. The first step was to present the refined plan to the city council, which happened during a Tuesday work session.
Next, the city is working to identify funding opportunities, which may include grants and private fundraising. The city is partnering with Think Iowa City on this, Heiar said.
Among the funding sources the city is exploring is the state’s Destination Iowa program. The city council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city to submit the Destination Iowa application once it’s complete.
Heiar said outside funding sources will be needed to “make this a reality.” The plan presented this week is a concept, Heiar added, and could be altered depending on the amount of money that’s available.
The city purchased land for the park in 2010 and developed a master plan for it in 2012. Centennial Park, the city’s largest park, opened in 2013.
The city has completed four phases of work since the master plan was created, with the most recent phase wrapping up this year. Completed projects include construction of driveways, permeable paver parking, trails and age-appropriate play features.
City staff have been working with local firm Shive-Hattery since May to update the 2012 master plan and complete preliminary design on the entertainment complex. Among the goals, according to documents in the council agenda, are providing year-round programming, expanding existing programming and improving accessibility.
“So much visioning out there that we couldn't have anticipated 10 years ago when we put Centennial together,” Mayor Chris Hoffman said.
Park plan updates
The event center — which is being tentatively called the Centennial Center — would be the “heart of the park,” according to the design concept documents from Shive-Hattery. It would accommodate events with attendance of up to 300 people and include a stage facing south toward the open lawn.
The event center would be 13,000 square feet including interior space and the 2,700-square-foot exterior stage.
An open air pavilion would be built between the west parking lot and the Centennial Center. The space could host its own events or be used in conjunction with the event center and stage.
The 5,000-square-foot splash pad would be built south of the existing playgrounds, with a restroom building and picnic shelter constructed between the playground and splash pad.
Plans for the colorful splash pad include a variety of water features, including low bubblers and overhead showers, for kids of all ages. Shade structures and colorful lights are included in the design.
The “honor garden” will be a space for those visiting to honor North Liberty veterans and those who have died in combat. An open air shelter with a flagpole next to it is proposed in the colorful garden.
Additional parking is also proposed.
A preliminary project schedule shows construction beginning in December 2023 and lasting through May 2025, but that is subject to change as the design is developed and as funding is secured.
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