Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

September 25, 2013

Environmental Learning Center enters fund-raising phase

OSKALOOSA — Efforts to build an environmental learning center at Caldwell Park is entering a new phase.

Mahaska County Conservation officials were on hand Thursday afternoon during a Business After Hours open house at Caldwell Park on the east side of Oskaloosa to talk about the environmental learning center.

“We’ve gone from our Awareness Campaign to the Fund-raising Campaign,” MCCB Director Dave Sedivec said.

MCCB officials and supporters are talking to business owners and individuals in the area to raise funds for the project.

“It’s definitely going to be a multi-year process,” Sedivec said of fund-raising and construction of the center. “We’re hoping to raise $3.5 million.”

The environmental learning center is envisioned to be a 50-foot by 120-foot building with two floors. It will have about 12,000-square-feet of space, Sedivec said. There will be a 120-space parking lot, in two sections, for the center. The center also will feature outdoor classrooms, he added.

MCCB Board member Barry Versteegh said the conservation board is working with Mahaska County officials to bring a historic bridge to be placed over Spring Creek where the Oskaloosa Recreation Trail will enter the park.

Versteegh said anyone interested in contributing to the environmental learning center can contact either a MCCB official or a member of the Friends of Mahaska County Conservation.

Friends of Mahaska County Conservation board member Jennifer Peterson said the organization will speak to anyone interested in learning about the project.

“We just jumped in this summer,” she said of the fund-raising effort. “We’d like to raise a large portion with the businesses.”

Peterson said there are several ways a business or individual could contribute to the learning center. There are in-kind donations of services, estate donations or pledges for future donations. Also, people are welcomed to volunteer to work at conservation-related events, she said.

“This is going to be a long-term project,” Friends of Mahaska County Conservation member Barry Alison said.

“Our goal is 2015 for ground breaking,” Peterson said. “It will benefit our whole community and communities around us.”

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