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Plots for parks and future facilities

NORTH LIBERTY– The North Liberty City Council approved two significant land purchases last week.
At their regular meeting on July 14, the council unanimously agreed to buy two plots of land, but both will be reserved for the city’s future use.
An area of between 36 and 41 acres, located off St. Andrews Dr. on the west side of Jones Blvd., will be purchased for $19,900 per acre, City Administrator Ryan Heiar told the council. The exact number of acres will be determined after a final land survey is completed.
“We have been working with the developers of Glynmor, L.L.C., and we feel this is a very fair price,” Heiar said, noting that the city’s recent land purchases for facilities expansions have cost between $30,000 and $33,000 per acre.
The intent is to create more park space there, Heiar said.
Council member Jim Wozniak said the city’s Parks study, though it is still in draft form, indicated that more public green spaces were needed on North Liberty’s west side.
“This is smack-dab in the middle of where the experts said we need to look at putting a park of this size,” Wozniak said.
The city’s second parcel of new land is located across from the existing fire station on W. Cherry St. The 34,180 sq. ft. plot was purchased from the revocable trust of Alois Alberhasky at $6 per sq. ft., or just over $205,000.
The land purchase is part of the city’s overall facilities plan, Heiar said.
Since a 2007 facilities study by RDG Engineering, the city has been considering different options for expanding its operational sites. A cramped city hall, congested police and fire stations and inadequate public works and parks department facilities have prompted both land purchases and new building projects as the city seeks to relieve its overcrowding. In 2007, the city paid approximately $916,000 for 29.6 acres of land along Front Street to expand its Streets Department, and in 2008, the council approved a 40 ft. by 80 ft., $150,000 addition to the Parks Department shop.
There are no definite plans at this time for the Cherry Street property, said Heiar.
“The intent is to have a civic campus in the heart of the older part of town. We will look at what we can fit into that area and decide what departments might go into a new building and what existing facilities can be refurbished to house other city departments,” he said.
“It is important to know that we are just now acquiring land and gathering information and ideas, but no concept has been discussed in depth,” Heiar added.
Once the council approves an amendment to its Urban Renewal Plan, both properties will be included in urban renewal areas, and the purchase and development of the land could be repaid through Tax Increment Financing funds.
The council set a public hearing for amending the city’s Urban Renewal Plan for Aug. 11.