Imagine Iowa Great Lakes Holds Another Public Update Meeting

Wed 8-22-2018

(Okoboji)-- A meeting to update the public on the $10 million Imagine Iowa Great Lakes Beautification project was held Wednesday evening at the Pearson Lakes Art Center. Project organizers gave an update on the first phase of the project which includes the Arnolds Park waterfront and promenade area between the public beach and volleyball courts to the Central Emporium. Terry Lutz of McClure Engineering, one of the entities involved in Imagine Iowa Great Lakes, told the crowd they are nearly done with preliminary drawings for those areas and are about to move into construction plans...Lutz Update01 

"We will finish up the design over the next several weeks, probably start construction yet this fall. Construction will go as long as we can in the winter, and then next spring we're going to make the area that's torn up accessible, but it probably won't be all finished by the spring season of next year. So you'll see construction probably going on through the course of next year and into next fall. The bulk of that work over the next year will be on the waterfront area itself, where the Queen's parked, that boardwalk area, and the promenade that leads from Arnolds Park up towards the Central Emporium. That's what we're really calling phase one that will start immediately. A year from now, literally the year, next fall, after the Roof Garden is built this year, we will tear into Lake Street and re-build Lake Street."

As we reported previously, plans for the waterfront include a wooden board walk, concrete area, and native plantings along with enhancements to the north end of Zephyr Drive near the roller coaster, including a fire pit and seating area. Plans for the promenade area include consolidating the two walkways currently in that area into one with separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, lighting, planters, a seating area in the shape of the Iowa Great Lakes, some decorative plantings and other features.

Lutz also commented on the situation surrounding the Okoboji Middle School property... Update02

"We did not start this project with the school in mind, and we were asked to participate in the school only after that project got it's approval, so to try to facilitate that process the Imagine Group was willing to help. But again, the Imagine group is not here to create controversy. This is such an exciting opportunity for the lakes region, we are not going to get involved in anything that's controversial. So if you have something that's controversial we would like to know about it. We will do what we can do to work with whoever to eliminate the controversy. There's too many good things going on with this project to have this thing go south. We do not want to lose the support of our donor group and we do not want to lose the opportunity to leverage the donor group's contribution with other funding that may come down the pike as we move forward."

            Responding to a question from the crowd regarding future maintenance costs of the beautification features, Lutz said the intention is to form an endowment fund for that purpose.

He added traffic engineers installed cameras this summer along some high traffic volume areas in the Iowa Great Lakes and that they'll be reviewing that data in the coming months.

Lutz said the next public update meeting probably won't be held until spring.