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5 projects to spruce up Cedar Rapids parks this summer

Kevin Dee with Prestige Masonry in Anamosa, Iowa, takes a measurement as he and others work to lay brick for the new ADA compliant bathrooms at Noelridge Park in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Kevin Dee with Prestige Masonry in Anamosa, Iowa, takes a measurement as he and others work to lay brick for the new ADA compliant bathrooms at Noelridge Park in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Daniels Park is the latest of the 57 playgrounds in the Cedar Rapids park system to get an overhaul.

A new play set is being installed in the lower park area. It will better serve those with mobility challenges, with a wheelchair-friendly surface, all-inclusive swings and more ground-level pieces.

“The desire to make sure all amenities are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities, has been a focus of the city for the last couple of years,” said Scott Hock, Cedar Rapids parks and recreation director. “This is very reflective in the projects we have happening this summer as well.”

Numerous additions, repairs and upgrades are slated for Cedar Rapids parks this spring and summer, such as urban gardens at Old MacDonald’s Farm, a new restroom at Noelridge Park and Americans with Disabilities Act projects throughout the park system.

Cedar Rapids is looking to update all its playgrounds in the coming years. Cleveland Park is the next playground targeted for replacement, possibly this fall or next spring. The playgrounds have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, Hock said.

Christopher Clark, 30, of Cedar Rapids, was at the upper playground at Daniels with his nieces last Monday because the lower playground already had been dismantled. He was critical of the timing, thinking it should have been earlier in the spring, but was looking forward to having the lower playground reopened so they could avoid “coming up this hill.”

Here’s details about five of the biggest projects:

• Daniels Park: A $125,000 budget to install a larger lower-park playground, including an area for toddlers and one for older kids. Work is underway, and it should be open by early June, weather permitting.

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• Noelridge Park has a new restroom under construction alongside an all-inclusive playground that opened in 2017. The six- to eight-week project is expected to be complete in mid-to-late summer and cost $249,000.

The restrooms are designed to support care providers and those with disabilities. They will include two family bathrooms and adult changing tables.

“There’s more need for that in that location because of the playground,” Hock said.

• Bender Pool is slated to get an ADA update, including work indoors and outdoors that would be completed concurrently.

Inside, restrooms would be redone along with walkways on the pool deck. Outside, work will be done to the entryway, and walkways will be addressed. The $552,000 project is expected to begin in August and take six weeks to complete.

• Long term, the parks department is planning to build a new skate park possibly near the Time Check neighborhood closer to the river. In the short term, the existing skate park in Riverside Park is slated for work.

On tap are addressing cracks in concrete slabs, repairing lights and adding LED bulbs, replacing a broken slide rail and adding a second, fixing elevated pads, and adding benches designed for sitting or skating.

The project is expected to cost no more than $40,000 and take place in June. The lights have been fixed so they can turn back on although LEDs have not yet been added.

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• City officials are looking to select a story for a “storybook” project to be installed most likely in Cherokee Park in June, Hock said.

The pages of a children’s storybook would be blown up to placards, which would be mounted and spaced out along a walking trail. The cost is expected to be around $5,000 for the installation, and Hock said the city eventually could replicate the project in multiple parks.

“It encourages reading and walking, and it is great family time,” Hock said. “They get time between pages, and parents can encourage kids to act out the book between pages, for example encouraging them to walk like a duck.”

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

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