A group charged with selecting the site for a new neighborhood recreation center in Cedar Rapids has made a decision on a new location — the edge of Ellis Park, next to the Time Check neighborhood.
The group had most recently proposed using part of Cleveland Park along First Avenue SW to replace the flooded Time Check Recreation Center, but strong opposition from neighbors in the area convinced the group to back off.
FEMA is paying almost $3 million to replace the recreation center. The group had to decide on a proposed site by the end of March to qualify for the FEMA funding.
The decision Thursday morning came down to a choice between the maintenance building location in Ellis Park and a site next to Harrison Elementary School.
The task force, which includes five city council members, heard that removing both a park and a recreation maintenance building and replacing it at a different location would add more than $1 million to the project’s cost. But a near-unanimous majority decided the buildings were in such poor shape now they would need replacement within a few years anyway.
Recent ice jam flooding in the area added a few wrinkles to the choice.
City engineer Dave Elgin told the group the proposed site for the recreation center remains above the flooding, both recently as well as in June 2008. The city engineer said there would probably be a way to elevate street access to the site to keep the location open even during high water.
The second choice, next to Harrison School, will remain a strong second possibility, and task force members said if FEMA rejects the Ellis Park location, they would immediately turn around and submit the site next to the school.
City officials say they don’t expect a decision from FEMA for several months.
The full city council is expected to endorse the site selection for the recreation center during a meeting March 26.