Dave Smith, parks superintendent for the city of Cedar Rapids, shared some news with me that might spell the end to thoughts of selling land the city owns next to Squaw Creek Park.
Cedar Rapids has 301 acres near Highway 13 and 100, most of which is used for Gardner Golf Course. Just under 40 acres are in prairie land, along with space leased by the city to gardeners. The Cedar Rapids City Council was mulling the sale of those 40 acres to fund renovations to the Twin Pines Golf Course, but that might be out of the question.
Smith told me that the land was purchased with federal money under the Housing and Urban Development’s Open Space Act – at a cost of $194,417 back on Aug. 5, 1963. The property was purchased from a private landowner named Julius Bigger, according to the documents. Under that act, which the federal government continues to monitor, if the city chose to sell the land, it would have to replace the open space with equally sized and equally valued land. That would mean finding 40 acres or so elsewhere and purchasing it in today’s dollars, not the value of the land as it was in 1963. So really, the city would have nothing to gain, and probably much to lose, in selling the property.
Smith gave credit to the visionary city leaders at that time for having the foresight to obtain green space for its residents. “We want to stick with that original agreement,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how long ago it was.”
The City Council plans to discuss the Twin Pines Task Force’s report regarding funding options at the council meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday (March 5) at City Hall. It might be worth it to attend and see if the option of selling green space – maybe elsewhere – arises.