The kickoff celebration at the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids on Friday will also signal the start of another potential long-running battle. Cedar Rapids Parks leaders say once the public begins to use the music venue next to the Cedar River they’ll have to eventually come up with a plan to solve the goose problem.
The city has battled geese, and the mess they make, along the river and especially in the Ellis Park area for years. Earlier this year, the city council passed an ordinance to make it illegal to feed waterfowl at parks and on city-owned property.
Daniel Gibbins, Cedar Rapids Parks Superintendent, said the geese quickly discovered the amphitheater that was under construction and made themselves at home.
With the first use of the facility set for Friday afternoon, crews have launched an intensive effort to chase away the geese and clean up after them. Parks employees used power washers on Thursday on the concrete areas and picked up the droppings in the grass. But the geese will probably return overnight and crews will be out at the amphitheater as early as five o’clock Friday morning to do a final cleaning and keep them away until after the music events that begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Gibbins said that kind of cleaning and patrol effort will work on a temporary basis but he’s hoping for a more permanent solution as the amphitheater prepares for a full season in the spring of 2014.
Gibbins said workers did install a special “goose distress” sound effect on the amphitheater stage that has had some success in keeping the waterfowl off the stage itself. The sound effect, which is an actual recording of geese in distress, plays about every 30 minutes over loudspeakers on the stage. However Gibbins said it hasn’t chased the geese away from the grassy seating areas and walkways around the stage.
One idea for a more permanent solution to chase geese away is the construction of several small remote control hovercraft that can operate on land or water and can be used to annoy the animals until they fly off elsewhere. Gibbins said a number of retired electronics technicians have agreed to help the city build several such devices and the city is in the process of ordering electronic parts. The devices should be ready to use next spring.
The park superintendent also said it’s possible the city may have to hire a season workers or two next year with the idea they would concentrate on goose control and running the devices that would help keep geese away from the new amphitheater facility.