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Plans for a new water park, an ice rink and a transformed Life Fitness Center in Bettendorf are getting mostly positive reviews and comments from the public. That was the message City of Bettendorf officials presented in a report Tuesday, Sept. 6, to the Bettendorf City Council. During a committee of the whole meeting, council members learned that by a three-to-one margin, area residents who commented on the recreation plan showed support for it. Those comments were offered during two open house events (Aug. 24 and Aug. 29) hosted by the city at the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center as well as through an online survey. During the meetings and through the survey, area residents posed questions, support and some criticism for the plans to improve the city-owned recreational amenities at Middle Road and 23rd Street and develop a new attraction expected to be called “The Landing.” The plans include a new community water park, an ice rink and a YMCA-owned recreational center that, respectively, will replace the city’s Splash Landing, Frozen Landing and its Life Fitness Center. “Some people were armed with a lot of questions. Some just came to see what was going on,” said City Administrator Decker Ploehn told the council of the open house visitors. While most of the comments were positive and supportive of the proposal, he said the two most common categories of comments were: words of support for the plans, and concerns about senior events/activities. Most of the residents in support arrived at the events to show their support and stayed only for a short time. Those residents who had questions or complaints about the plans stayed much longer to get their views across, he added. “I’m excited as can be” about the open houses, the city administrator said. “It reinforces the notion that people do want to engage with you on this issue.” Mr. Ploehn – along with Kim Kidwell, Bettendorf’s director of culture and recreation, and Angie Sharp, the city’s new community engagement manager, who attended the Tuesday meeting via Zoom – gave the update on the open houses and survey results including:
- The open houses: The Aug. 24 open house drew 27 visitors, the Aug. 29 open house had 74 visitors. Ms. Kidwell added that many people at the open houses “wanted clarity” on the plan – especially the deal with the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley.
- An online survey had 2,778 responses in August including 466 comments in support of the plan, 145 comments on concerns about costs, and 109 comments on keeping the tennis courts at the transformed Life Fitness Center. (At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Ploehn told the council that YMCA officials said tennis would be available at the new recreation center for two years.)
- Some online comments included: “All the amenities sound great and are needed.” “I would like to see indoor tennis facilities retained. It would be a shame to lose that.” “Will this increase my taxes?” “Concerned about the cost to non-Y members. Fees currently seem very fair for Splash Landing and fitness center.”
- Fall: City council vote on the project and site development plan process. The Bettendorf council is scheduled to consider the sale of the Life Fitness Center at its Tuesday, Oct. 4, meeting.
- Winter 2022-23: Bid process.
- January 2023: Recreational center opens
- Spring 2023: Construction begins.
- Spring 2024: New water park opens.
- Water Park: It would provide more than 20,000 square feet of water recreation. Features would include: Activity pool with rock climbing wall, basketball, floatables, lap lanes and more; three-story slide tower with two-story tall FlyTyme Slide, raft/tube slide, open body slide, and speed slide; Splash deck with interactive play structure; 430-foot-long Lazy River. It will serve up to 1,500 people a day, compared to 700 people at Splash Landing. Estimates call for 100,000 visitors a year. There would be a daily admission for non-Y members. Plans call for the park to be owned by the city and operated by the YMCA. Estimated cost is $18.7 million
- Ice rink. This will provide outdoor winter recreational activities. More than 14,500 people visited Frozen Landing in the 2021-22 season. The proposed rink would be 70-by-176 feet compared to the current ice rink’s 60-by-120 feet. Estimates call for 15,000 visitors a year. The rink would be owned and operated by the city. Estimated cost is $3 million.
- The Life Fitness Center would be sold to the YMCA to be turned into a youth programming focused fitness center with gymnastics and a child care center. The center is expected to host an Early Learning Center for 100 additional children; a gymnastics/ninja center; indoor recreational soccer and basketball programs; youth personal training center. With YMCA ownership, taxpayers could save about $250,000 a year in operational costs. The new center would continue to serve as a city emergency center, be open for city-run recreational programs in inclement weather, have an 18-month guarantee for indoor tennis players, and the YMCA joiner fee would be waived for all current fitness center members.