Another so-called brilliant idea to sell green space

thumbnail1.jpgI see city councilman Kris Gulick wants Cedar Rapids to consider selling property it owns outside the city limits. And he has eyes on a place of refuge not only for gardeners, but for a rare abundance of wildlife that is getting crowded into ever-shrinking parcels of land.

What possible value could those 90 or so acres have next to Squaw Creek Park if they aren’t part of the 18-hole golf course? It’s only prairie grass, planted next to garden plots where city dwellers like me can lease space that we don’t have at home. Along with a summers-long supply of fresh vegetables for our families, a sense of community and friendships have grown.

To Gulick and others, what better place to smack down a new housing development. To me, it’s where my sons and other city kids have a chance to connect with nature. The  prairie grasses are home to quail, ground squirrels and numerous other critters.  I’ve seen dozens of our state bird, the goldfinch, descend on the sunflowers my sons grow at the city leased gardens –  birds that, for some reason, no longer come to our backyard in Cedar Rapids. 

I have shadowy “Bigfoot-style” video footage of a tiny gray fox that crept near the gardens on two  occasions and shot pictures of an unusual snake that I wanted my naturalist sister to identify.

I saw a whole field lit up with lightning bugs that rivaled the best fireworks display that the Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest has ever paid for and an early evening that I like to remember as the night of the dragonflies.

Nearby, in some scrub trees that are obviously worthless to the city, I watched a brilliant deep blue bird fly back and forth that my grandmother helped me identify as an indigo bunting, one that even she has rarely seen in her 90-plus years of bird watching. If you’ve never seen one, you’ve missed one of Iowa’s most stunning birds. If the acres next to the park become another development, our chances of seeing another indigo bunting become about as rare as hitting a hole-in-one. 


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Doug said,

    The City of Cedar Rapids doesn’t pay for fireworks. The festival pays for it through corporate sponsorships and donations.

    If you read the entire article you’ll note an understanding of the need for green space…and a relative worth of green space near Squaw Creek versus something closer to city center.

    Instead of simply complaining about Councilmember Gulick and his idea and simply saying, “no,” why not come up with a viable alternative…like suggesting Linn County buy the land and preserve it?

    It always helps to come to the table with an alternative other than “no.”

  2. 2

    Steve Hanken said,

    I quite agree, the council has, for the most part, lost its direction to understand we are not all about development; that is the Chamber of Commerce business. Our city government is about the care and feeding of the needs and services that keep us in this spot, for if we leave, it no longer is a city. If the River Walk is important, so should our gardening ground be important, and even more so with the shortage of fossil fuels.These are all important green spaces that have as much importance as any factory or housing development. They are places that define us as part of natural landscape, instead of some sort of Star Trek Borg warriors.

  3. 3

    Jan Aiels said,

    I gardened for years at the Squaw Creek Garden site while I lived in an apartment with no green space, whatever. My grandchildren would accompany me and loved to play in the grasses, learned where their vegetables really came from and learned the virture and joy of working with the soil. Our community needs space for many things but we are rapidly losing all bits of undeveloped areas. An empty lot (yes, with a few “weeds” is a wild area to a child where many lessons and a love of nature and outdoors can sprout. Our community is so intent on the value of development that we are forgetting the value of ouir natural heritage of trees and green, open areas. It’s no wonder our children are obese and do not know how to entertain themselves outside.

  4. 4

    Steve Hanken said,

    I see no error in what was spoken by Ms. Hadish, she didn’t say the city paid for the fireworks, she said “the Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest fireworks” which I would have to assume is the arm that collected those funds, not the city. As to green space down town, I would have to agree, it is something that has been in short supply forever, but removing a green space from one place in order to improve a golf course isn’t exactly the use most of us would have in mind when it comes to green space. On another side, if green space is what they truly want down town why do they continually cover the ground with parking lots and then go looking for developers to build on those same lots? We are often fed mixed messages from the council and frankly many of us don’t trust them. What they say doesn’t compare well with what they eventually do. Osada housing project is but one example.

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