Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 28, 2013

Coming soon to a Levee near you?

By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Plans developed in 1996 to upgrade a two-block area in the Centerville Levee District has surfaced after 17 years and one person is asking, "Why not now?"

Nancy Bennett, a Betterment or Bust group member, is asking the question now because BOB has been very active raising money and improving the VFW Depot, located on South 18th Street in the midst of the Levee District.

"That's what we're trying to see, if there's any interest in actually improving the Levee District and making it look better," Bennett said. "At this point in time, it's just a discussion."

Bennett said it is a project much too large for BOB and would require help from others in the community.

For instance, Bennett said, trees for the project could come from Trees Forever.

The idea of implementing the Iowa State University landscape architecture students' 1996 design to spruce up the Levee District has the BOB group excited, Bennett said.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could do this," Bennett said.

If you have ideas to make the Levee District upgrade a reality or want to get involved in the process, Bennett recommended going to City Hall on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. to attend a BOB group meeting.

ISU landscape architecture students made observation notes. The idea was to create a space that defined the district, unified building and vacant spaces giving it a positive "sense of place" and making it an asset to the community. Draw new businesses into the area would fill in some of the vacant lots and improve the overall appearance and use of this space. 

The students listed as problems to many open lots, deteriorating sidewalks, no trees or vegetation and no features to tie the buildings together.

The students listed as solutions the infill of buildings where feasible or a false front, add trees and lamp posts, concrete paving with brick pattern inlaid, awnings on store fronts, storefront restoration and sprucing up and brick or brick stamped crosswalks.

Where infill of new buildings in empty spaces did not seem viable or necessary, green spaces were proposed with lots becoming pocket parks.