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DCA awards $1.2 million for 10 projects in 7 Iowa Great Places

Posted November 12, 2012 in Web Exclusives

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced it has awarded more than $1.2 million in Iowa Great Places funding for 10 projects in seven Iowa communities.

DCA awarded $1,215,664.94 in Iowa Great Places funding to Danish Villages; Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty; Hamilton/Webster counties; Marion; Tama County; Turkey River; and the Villages of Van Buren County. The seven communities requested a total of $1,571,566.94 for 14 different projects. The awards announced today come from the Iowa Great Places program to support vertical infrastructure projects.

“These grant awards are significant because they help enhance quality of life in Iowa communities, generate economic activity and encourage job growth,” DCA Director Mary Cownie said.

This year’s grants will leverage local funding in public-private partnerships for projects that are represented by everything from public art to adaptive re-use of a historic property.

Once completed, the projects will offer residents and visitors exciting and unique quality of life experiences. In turn, those experiential attractions are expected to draw tourists, and attract businesses and prospective employees while boosting the local economy.

According to a 2010 Economic Impact Report by O’Brien Economic Consulting, grants awarded to the first nine Iowa Great Places accepted into the program in 2005 and 2006 generated the following results:

·        Iowa Great Places grants created 1,012 construction jobs and 707 permanent jobs.

·        More than $400 million invested in projects that are currently under construction or completed.

·        Iowa Great Places grants have been leveraged on an average of 22-to-1 by local communities.

Overall, more than $12 million in Iowa Great Places funding was awarded to 27 Iowa Great Places communities through FY2012 (see attached).

Following is the list of communities receiving FY2013 Iowa Great Places funding announced today:

(Iowa Great Place)

(Project Name – Grant Award Amount)

(Project Description)

(Quote from Local Contact)

(Local Contact Information)

Danish Villages

Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park – $90,000

The Danish Immigrant Museum seeks Great Places support for Phase II of the installation of the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park. Danish Villages has completed installation of the Jens Jensen Heritage Brick Plaza and planting of 20 acres of the park. The park is a tribute to Jensen, who was one of America’s greatest landscape designers and conservationists of the early 20th century. The park is planted with his philosophies in mind, enhancing the visitor’s overall museum experience. Completion of the park will increase opportunities to attract new audiences to the museum and the Danish Villages.

Little Mermaid Trail and Park Improvements – $111,410

The Little Mermaid Trail will connect the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton with a recreational trail beginning at the sculpture of the Little Mermaid in Kimballton and ending at the State of Iowa Welcome Center on the Danish Windmill grounds in Elk Horn. This project is Phase II of the Little Mermaid Park Improvements and Hans Christian Andersen Sculpture Garden. Requested funds will be used to offset the costs of new and safer playground equipment, a sculpture garden and walkway, and ADA compliant restroom facilities.

“I’m so proud of all the volunteers who have come together to dream about and plan for the future of The Danish Villages. They are all motivated to make improvements that bring people together and make this a better community. Our projects focus on enhancing the quality of life outdoors and encouraging people to get out and enjoy our parks and trails. The grants from Iowa Great Places have leveraged other local dollars and infused over $650,000 into our towns over 2 years.” – Janell Hansen

Janell Hansen, General Manager
Marne & Elk Horn Telephone Company

Hamilton-Webster Counties

Regional Wayfinding & Marketing – $76,596.94

Hamilton and Webster counties are continuing their partnership to include regional way-finding kiosks at major community attractions and trails. The kiosks will provide directional and historical information at a variety of popular community attractions throughout the two counties. Both communities will use similar design, presentation and content to inform visitors about the region. The counties will work together to promote and market regional points of interest through the “Where the Rivers Run Wild” theme.

“Both counties have invested considerable resources in developing land and water trails that connect community assets. This project is part of a larger vision of community transportation and way-finding that has been an on-going priority for these two counties for the past decade. We thank the Iowa Great Places board and the State of Iowa for their support and assistance in continuing our vision of quality of life and sense of place with this funding of the “Where the Rivers Run Wild” project.” – Cheryl O’Hern and Brian Lammers

Cheryl O’Hern
Spin Markket
Committee Chair for Hamilton and Webster County Iowa Great Places project

Brian Lammers, Executive Director
Hamilton County Conservation
Committee Member for Hamilton and Webster County Iowa Great Places project

Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty

Iowa River Restoration Project – $152,000

Iowa City continues to rebuild after the historic River Flood of 2008. The proposed project will build on previous initiatives that have fostered community consensus around creating a riverfront park system and moving development out of the floodplain. The goals of this project include promotion of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, flood mitigation, public safety, improved fish habitat and enhanced water quality.

Public Art & Sculpture in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing – $145,000

This project includes the selection and installation of 10 permanent outdoor sculptures in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing. This installment will include the work of exclusively Iowa artists. The theme of each piece will be tied to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The project will showcase the talent of Iowa artists; highlight the authors of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; provide art for public enjoyment at no cost to the public; increase awareness of the area as a UNESCO City of Literature; and offer additional information about sculpture, literature, artists, and the City of Literature for public education.

“The Great Places funding for the Iowa River Restoration project in Iowa City and Public Art and Sculpture in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing will help to bring about projects that will significantly enhance quality of life in our area. The City of Literature designation given to the Iowa City area by UNESCO differentiates us from the rest of the world –  we are one of just six cities internationally with this designation – and this funding will allow us to enhance our communities further through projects that also will raise the profile of that designation. These are projects that will benefit residents as they visit the Coralville sculpture garden or enjoy recreation opportunities on the Iowa River with a literary bent, but they also will draw visitors from outside of our area, introducing them to the region’s Iowa River Valley and educating them about the City of Literature designation and our area’s literary heritage. These projects also will employ Iowans, from the engineers and designers who finalize plans for the Iowa River Restoration to the artists and sculptors who create the works to be displayed in Coralville. Long term, recreation efforts and tourism opportunities brought about by these projects will continue to boost employment.” – John Kenyon

John Kenyon, Executive Director
Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
319-356-5245 (p)
319-631-5689 (c)


Lowe Park Amphitheatre & Sculpture Trail Phase II – $250,000

The City of Marion is currently implementing plans to construct an iconic amphitheater and sculpture trail at Lowe Park. The unique trail will lead visitors through a healthy native prairie where they will encounter a series of large-scale sculptures. The grand finale will be the nature-themed amphitheater, which will serve as a functional work of art featuring a canopy of six enormous oak leaves. The open gathering space, conveniently situated adjacent to Lowe Park’s LEED Silver Arts and Entertainment Center, will welcome all visitors to participate in a myriad of public performing arts events as well as private celebrations.

“The iconic amphitheater being created for Marion’s Lowe Park arose from a chamber-led visioning process called Imagine8. Community members said repeatedly that the city needs an outdoor performing arts venue. Thanks to Great Places support, we now have a stunning design created by RDG of Des Moines, and a complex network of partners working together to bring the project into reality.  Marion’s city council and staff are very supportive of this grass-roots project because it represents the democratic process in action.  Empowering citizens is indeed one of the intangible strengths of Iowa’s Great Places program.” – Karen Hoyt, Co-Chair Park It, IMAGINE8 Committee

“Friday, November 9th, we kicked off our ‘Local Businesses, Families and Individuals’ part of our Campaign to match a local Hall Perrine Challenge Grant (1 for 1). I want to thank the Iowa Great Places for believing in our community. Our city will make them proud they partnered with us. Thank you.” – Victor Klopfenstein, Co-chair Marion Parks and Recreation Foundation Campaign Committee

“We are honored to be part of the Great Places program over the past three years. Since 2009, Great Places has awarded Marion $485,000 to complete community projects that Marion residents helped develop. On one hand, it’s hard for me to believe how much progress we’ve made over the past three years, on the other hand, that’s the beauty of Great Places. You only receive the Great Places designation if you have solid plans in place.  When you have plans in place your odds of success skyrocket. We’ve also been able to engage new leaders in the Marion community to help with planning and project development. Great Places helped us build a plan that the entire community could rally around. Although our three-year designation is almost up, Great Places has given us the tools to be successful for years to come.”  – Jill Ackerman, President, Marion Chamber of Commerce

Jill Ackerman
President, Marion Chamber of Commerce
319-377-6316 (p)
319-377-1576 (f)
319-431-1242 (c)

Tama County

Otter Creek Lake and Park – $75,000
The Tama County Nature Center is a unique destination with a specific purpose: provide a sanctuary where people can interact with, come to understand, learn to appreciate and act to protect their natural world. The Riparian Diorama, located within the 5,600-square-foot Tama County Nature Center, will inspire visitors through interactive and passive learning. Nationally renowned fabricator Terry Brown of Museum Professionals will create a diorama that will be a unique and stimulating adventure for young and old alike. The diorama will inspire visitors to explore the natural habitats found in the park and in their neighborhoods.

“Expanding Otter Creek Lake and Park will improve the quality of life and the economy of Tama County. I’m proud of the dedicated people in our county who have worked so hard to demonstrate a strong sense of ‘community’ that being one of Iowa’s Great Places embodies.” – Heath Kellog.

Heath Kellog, Executive Director
Tama County Economic Development
Toledo, Iowa

Turkey River Recreational Corridor

Clermont & Elkader City Trails – $92,747

Elgin City Trail – $57,253

The Phase III – City Land Trail projects are another component of the Turkey River Land Trail regional trail project connecting the communities of Clermont, Elgin and Elkader, Iowa. This regional Great Places project provides for continued development along the scenic Turkey River Valley in Clayton and Fayette counties in Northeast Iowa. Each community intends to construct trails within their city boundaries that will provide connection to existing and future land trails that connect all three communities providing a much larger regional trail system. This trail system has already been identified as the regional backbone trail system for a 6-county area in Northeast Iowa through the Regional Transportation Enhancement Committee that serves the region.

“This award from Iowa Great Places will allow the communities along the Turkey River Corridor to complete necessary connections to our trail system through the completion of city trails in the partner communities of Clermont, Elgin and Elkader. This funding will close the gap allowing these projects to move forward and providing even more opportunities for outdoor recreation in Northeast Iowa.” – Robin Bostrom

Robin M. Bostrom, Program Director
Turkey River Recreational Corridor

Villages of Van Buren

Stone Building Renovation – $165,658

The Stone Building, constructed in the 1850s, is situated in the heart of the Bentonsport Historic District on an Iowa Scenic Byway. The building is owned by the Bentonsport Improvement Association (BIA) and presently sits empty. The BIA is renovating the building to serve as a Community Center and as a classroom for the Villages Folk School classes and other community events. To date, the building has been tuck-pointed but remains as a shell – lacking windows, doors, and a finished interior. The building, when renovated, will be handicapped-accessible.

“This is wonderful news for Bentonsport and Van Buren County! It will give Bentonsport a community center and a great teaching site for Villages Folk School classes. It will renovate one of Bentonsport’s oldest buildings in the heart of the National Historic District.” – Lisa Schnedler

Lisa Schnedler, President
Iowa Great Places Committee for Van Buren

More information about Iowa Great Places is available at or by calling DCA at 515-281-5111.

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