Community involvement is a critical component to ensure the long-term success of the Waterloo redevelopment process. Resident ambitions, concerns, and goals play an important role in how the city allocates the federal, state, and local funding to projects. Public meetings are integral in formulating and shaping ideas for future uses of a site. This is evident in the planning efforts associated with the former Chamberlain and Construction Machinery Company site projects. The participation process often extends beyond the brain-storming sessions. In October 2007, the City of Waterloo held a public meeting to receive input on a grant application regarding the former Chamberlain site. This process strengthened the content placed in its grant submission. The City of Waterloo will continually seek citizen input at various times throughout the entire redevelopment project progression to ensure a unified vision of “The New Waterloo.”
The city originally began seeking the public’s opinions for the redevelopment process in April 2001 during the initial months of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assessment Demonstration Pilot Project. The Waterloo Brownfields Team (team) developed a comprehensive public involvement plan that outlined the goals, objectives, and the schedule of activities and meetings. The team also met with Waterloo Neighborhood Services and several neighborhood representatives at the time. From input gathered during these initial meetings, the team formulated a mission statement for the redevelopment initiative.
“It Starts in Your Own Backyard”
This public meeting between neighborhood residents, the city, and a consulting firm took place on June 28, 2001 to discuss the future Rath Neighborhood area. Nearly 50 individuals attended to voice their opinions. During the meeting, facilitators asked the participants to envision their ideal neighborhood and identify various activities they would like to do in the area. Their answers are below, along with the number of respondents in parenthesis for each item:
- Increase commercial development (18)
- General recreation/sport activities (16)
- Recreation for children (9)
- Improve housing mix/quality (8)
- Reduce crime/drug dealing (6)
- Improve bicycle/pedestrian opportunities (6)
- Improve aesthetics (5)
- Increase safety (5)
- Infrastructure improvements (5)
- River access/recreation (4)
- Clean-up railroad area (3)
- Enhance City services (animal control, zoning) (3)
- Mixed-use development (2)
- Reuse of vacant lots (2)
- Senior recreation/housing (2)
- School/daycare facilities (2)
- Increase neighborhood input (1)
- Open space/public green space (1)
- Maintain affordable housing (1)
Facilitators also asked participants to identify areas in need of change by placing dots on an area map. Their answers are below, along with the number of respondents in parenthesis for each item.
- Lafayette Park (20)
- Areas of drug activity (19)
- Improve dilapidated buildings/abandoned sites (9)
- Remove CMC (9)
- Redevelop Rath parcels (6)
- Residences (3)
- Sycamore Street (2)
- 11th Street land use (1)
- 6th-11th Street, from Franklin-River (1)
- Improve overall infrastructure (1)
- Traffic on Independence and North (1)
- Recreational areas (1)
- Replace 18th Street Bridge (1)
The City of Waterloo continues to respond directly to the issues raised at the meeting in 2001. Several examples and subsequent results are:
- Starting July 1, 2007, the city has targeted approximately 70 percent of their annual Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to the Rath Neighborhood in an effort to improve the quality of homes.
- The Riverwalk Trail System, with an expected completion date of early 2008, will run along the Cedar River through the Rath Neighborhood. The trail will improve the bicycling and pedestrian opportunities of residents while adding to recreational options for local children.
- The city has upgraded local infrastructure considerably since 2001 with the opening of a new 18th Street Bridge in 2005 and the rebuilding of East 10th Street between Franklin and Sycamore Streets
- The city secured federal funding to purchase the majority of the former Construction Machinery Company (CMC) site to prepare it for future use. The process included the demolition and removal of structures, environmental site assessments, and remediation efforts involving the removal of former underground tanks, contaminants in the soil, and the debris from the former burned buildings.
- The City of Waterloo secured a $600,000 grant to improve Lafayette Park.
For more information regarding upcoming meetings, visit the current news section of the website!