Outdoor education center wins final OK for northeast Cedar Rapids site

Development will include cabins, garage for training vehicles

Rick Smith
Published: January 17 2014 | 8:59 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:16 am in

The city’s Board of Adjustment gave final approval this week for a conditional use permit to allow the Pathfinder Outdoor Education Center to occupy 13 acres of partially wooded land on Seminole Valley Road NE.

The center is the brainchild of Dave Blankenship, an AEGONUSA executive who is active with scouting, wilderness training and a local amateur radio club.

Earlier this month, the City Planning Commission recommended approval of Blankenship’s plan.

The Pathfinder Outdoor Education Center will start with a large garage, which will house training vehicles, including an ambulance and rescue truck, and the local amateur ham radio club’s radio center. Next, the plan calls for a lodge-like classroom building. The third phase of development could include five small camping cabins for overnight stays.

Blankenship compared the center to Linn County’s Wickiup Hill Learning Center, where his group now conducts classes. Most who will use Pathfinder Outdoor Education Center will be from ages 14 to 20 and will include male and female scouts and their leaders. They will learn about the outdoors, wilderness first aid, CPR, green technologies like wind and solar power and amateur radio operation.

Blankenship has told neighbors that existing timber on the south side of the property nearest their homes would remain a forest preserve to buffer them from the education center.

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