New pool, ice rink and rec center in Bettendorf’s big plans

Kim Kidwell, Bettendorf’s director of culture and recreation, discusses plans for new recreation projects proposed in the city at a question and answer event Wednesday, Aug. 17. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

There are big plans in the works in Bettendorf. They include a new public swimming pool, new ice rink and transforming the city’s Life Fitness Center into a new recreation center.

Those are the projects contained in a plan that calls for more than $20 million in improvements to the Middle Road and 23rd Street area of Bettendorf that is expected to be called “The Landing.”

Those plans include a new community water park, ice rink and recreational center that will replace Splash Landing, Frozen Landing, and the Life Fitness Center.

The multi-million dollar, three-part proposed project – that is a partnership between the City of Bettendorf and the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley – still needs to get approval from the Bettendorf City Council and the YMCA Corporate Board.

If the projects are approved, the new recreation center could open in January, and the new water park and ice rink could be open in 2024.

“Change is hard. I understand that, but I think it will be great for the community. … It will be  fabulous for the community,” Kim Kidwell, Bettendorf’s director of culture and recreation, said Wednesday, Aug. 17, during a question and answer session on the proposed projects.

Ms. Kidwell and Brad Martell, president and CEO of YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley, met with the media in the parking lot of Bettendorf’s Splash Landing to outline the proposed projects, costs and timeline and discuss why they believe those projects will benefit the community. The plans also were presented to the Bettendorf City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Council members were told the project would be a benefit in bringing new state-of-the-art facilities and could serve more people. It also would ultimately save the community up to $500,000 a year because of the new and efficient designs, and because it would be operated by the YMCA, it would come with no tax increases in Bettendorf. 

For instance, the new water park – which would be owned by Bettendorf and operated by the YMCA – would save taxpayers $200,000 and attract 100,000 visitors a year, according to the Bettendorf news release.

The money for the new water park – expected to cost $18.7 million – will come from three sources: one-third from the city of Bettendorf, one-third from the YMCA and one-third from private donors. The city’s portion could come from federal COVID-19 rescue plan funds.

That new park would replace Splash Landing, which has been closed to most members of the public this summer due to issues caused by the painted surfaces. In July, the city decided not to open the pool for the rest of this season. Bettendorf had been investigating issues with the paint that was used in the pool.

“It’s no secret that our pool has had problems, especially this summer. … It’s really unfortunate what’s happened to it,” said Ms. Kidwell during Wednesday’s session.

Other parts of the plan call for a $3 million ice rink that could attract 15,000 visitors a year, and converting the fitness center – that would be sold to the YMCA – into a youth-programming focused fitness center with gymnastics and a child care center. 

Mr. Martell told the QCBJ that the YMCA does not have a cost estimate on the recreation center project. “We have not done anything other than to allow $1 million for remodel cost for the Early Learning Center. If approved by council, we will move to the next steps. We may open by Jan. 1, 2024, for the Early Learning Center. … We would move the gymnastics/ninja into the center in January 2023, and start basketball games and practice at the same time,” he said in an email.

But before the big plans move forward, they will have to go through several meetings. First, two community meetings have been set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, and 5-7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf. Also, a public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, with the Bettendorf City Council in the council chambers at Bettendorf City Hall. (Questions and comments on the projects can be sent to bettendorf.org/TheLanding.)

If those plans move forward, here is a proposed timeline for the project:

  • Fall: City council vote on the project and site development plan process.
  • Winter 2022-23: Bid process.
  • January 2023: Recreational center opens
  • Spring 2023: Construction starts.
  • Spring 2024: New water park opens.

Planned projects at a glance: 

  • 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. The current ice rink is 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 of Iowa Mississippi Valley 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. The new center would continue to serve as a city emergency center, 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.

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