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Nearly $1 Million Awarded to Projects in Five Iowa Great Places

Dec 20, 2018

DES MOINES – Five Iowa Great Places have been awarded nearly $1 million in grants for projects in Burlington, Decorah, Dubuque, Malvern and Maquoketa.

“We’re proud to partner with the leaders of these communities to invest in Iowa’s quality of life,” said Chris Kramer, acting director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “Our Iowa Great Places program aligns with our department’s mission to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities through investments in arts, media, history and culture.”

The Iowa Great Places program recognizes and partners with Iowans who cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of their local places, such as neighborhoods, districts or regions, to make them great places to live and work. Iowa Great Places receive access to funding opportunities, professional development training, technical assistance opportunities, a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders, and other state and local resources.

“These grants are designed to boost projects that have widespread community support,” said Liesl Voges, who manages the Iowa Great Places program. “This financial support recognizes big cities and small towns that are building real momentum and empowers them to build even more.”

Here are additional details about the five projects that have received a total of $999,487 in Iowa Great Places grant awards:

Project: Iconic Stone Structures
Designated Great Place: Decorah
Year of Re-Designation: 2018
Applicant: City of Decorah
Project Cost: $371,043
Grant Award: $155,000

This project aims to create a sense of cohesion and continuity among five different Decorah parks, to provide safer access to various park sites, to enhance each park’s character-defining elements and to preserve those elements for future generations. The list of components comprises the rehabilitation of steps, pillars, and landings at Ice Cave State Preserve; the creation of new wayfinding and place-defining stone elements at Dunning’s Spring; the rehabilitation of walls, overlooks, pillars, steps, landings and a fountain at Phelps Park; and the rehabilitation of steps, walls, pillars and enhanced wayfinding elements at Pulpit Rock.

Project: Malvern City Entrance Beautification
Designated Great Place: Malvern
Year of Designation: 2016
Applicant: Malvern Area Betterment Association
Project Cost: $84,535
Grant Award: $40,525

This project will extend Malvern’s welcoming atmosphere further to the north, since the town sits about two miles south of Highway 34 and can be easily missed by through traffic. The project plan calls for the construction of a lighted monument sign directly north of town. The sign’s artistic design will tie in with the downtown’s established aesthetic theme, including several metal tree sculptures. The trees will echo the Main Street improvements that visitors will see as they enter the town. To extend the welcoming atmosphere of our community, the project also calls for more decorative light poles north of the existing ones on Main Street. The combination of the illuminated entrance sign and the decorative light poles will provide both wayfinding and an extension of the welcoming atmosphere in the downtown business district.

Project: Maquoketa Trails: Pathways for the Community
Designated Great Place: Maquoketa
Year of Designation: 2016
Applicant: City of Maquoketa
Project Cost: $502,388
Grant Award: $218,200

“Maquoketa Trails: Pathways for the Community” will be Maquoketa’s first established trail system. The first component consists of constructing a 0.7-mile trail along 63rd Street, which is the access road to the Hurstville Interpretive Center. The second project component calls for the construction an 8-foot wide, quarter-mile paved community trail between Goodenow Recreation Field, in the heart of Maquoketa, and a network of existing walkways/bikeways within the city. The project will connect Prairie Creek Recreation Area on the south end of town and the Hurstville Interpretive Center to the north. The new trails also will make the community more walkable and encourage healthier lifestyles. The whole trail system will include directional signage and be mapped on the Grant Wood Loop interactive trail map.

Project: Mathias Ham House Campus Restoration
Designated Great Place: Dubuque Driftless North End
Year of Re-Designation: 2018
Applicant: City of Dubuque
Project Cost: $666,993
Grant Award: $285,762

The five-acre campus of the Mathias Ham House depicts life in Dubuque in the 19th century and presents tours, events, programs and living-history interpretation for approximately 11,000 visitors each year from all 50 states and 70 countries. The site employs a dozen part-time staffers and one full-time employee, along with 50 active volunteers. The site melds together the built and natural landscapes and connects the diverse Washington and Central Corridor neighborhoods with the Eagle Point Park District, completing the rich and diverse story of Dubuque’s Driftless North End. This project will include new assessments of the conditions of the Ham House and campus landscaping along with repairs to the Ham House, Humke Schoolhouse and log cabin.

Project: Downtown Riverfront Improvements
Designated Great Place: Burlington Downtown Riverfront District
Year of Designation: 2017
Applicant: City of Burlington
Project Cost: $5,081,400
Grant Award: $300,000

The Downtown Riverfront Improvements project will fulfill Burlington’s vision of constructing a recreational and social gathering space on the Mississippi riverfront. Every feature of this project – boardwalk, splash pad, outdoor amphitheater and shade structures – was identified during a months-long public participation process in which locals were invited to imagine what type of experience their riverfront could provide besides functioning as a parking lot. The Iowa Great Places grant will support the development of the splash pad and shade structure elements.

This year, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs received applications from 10 Iowa Great Places projects seeking more than $2.8 million. Funding for the Iowa Great Places program is provided by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The program is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.