It’s been a battle, but Friday John Kawa of Creston had reason to celebrate as the Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) voted 10-1 in favor of granting $300,000 toward the McKinley Park Restoration project.
The money will be used to construct a proposed three-pond filtration system in the “swamp area” on the north side of Adams Street. That filtration system will reduce silt sedimentation which will result in cleaner water flowing into McKinley Lake.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Kawa, president of the Park and Recreation Board Board. “This is the fourth time we have applied for this grant. It was a well-prepared grant. We had letters of support from different entities and businesses in Creston. Getting this grant has been a community effort.”
Jeremy Rounds — regional planner at Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG) — was a key player in the park board obtaining this grant money. Rounds prepared the 80-page grant.
“I’m just happy we won’t have to re-write the grant application next year,” Rounds laughed. “I’m glad we were able to get the money because I think it’s a great project that people in the town can be proud of.”
Kawa said this WIRB grant will not pay for the entire filtration system project — which is estimated at $1 million — but it will allow the park board and city council to give the go ahead to begin the first phase of the project.
The first phase of the project is constructing the filtration ponds in the watershed leading to McKinley Lake. The second phase is rehabilitating the existing wetland area “where all the cattails are now.” These two phases are expected to improve water quality to 85 percent clean by the time it reaches McKinley Lake.
The park board and city have three years to use the $300,000 grant.
However, Kawa is hopeful both phases of the filtration system project will be completed within two years so the board can then start applying for funding to dredge or begin drying out McKinley Lake.