MUSCATINE, Iowa – A long sought after athletic development on the southwest side of Muscatine is ready to take the leap from planning to implementation thanks to private and public commitments. Through the combined efforts of the City of Muscatine, Kent Corporation, and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the Houser Street Parking Expansion and Safety Enhancement Project is moving forward.
“We have known for some time now that additional parking was needed in that area with the high use of both Kent Stein Park and the Muscatine Soccer Complex,” Rich Klimes, Director of the City of Muscatine Parks & Recreation Department, said. “We are now on our way to developing a facility that will benefit a great number of outdoor enthusiasts.”
Kent Corporation has deeded 17.7 acres of land located just west of Houser Street between the American Legion and the entrance to Kent Stein Park to the City of Muscatine for the development. The land has an appraised value of $130,000.00.
“Kent Corporation is happy to contribute the land that will make Kent Stein Park and the Muscatine Soccer fields more accessible to the people living in and visiting Muscatine,” Gage Kent, Chairman and CEO Kent Corporation, said. “This fits naturally with Kent Corporation’s ongoing commitment for making our community a great place to live, work, and play.”
The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust financially supported the project with a donation of $140,000.00, and the City of Muscatine has budgeted $360,000.00 for the project.
“I have never been as excited about a parking lot project as I am about this one,” Gregg Mandsager, City Administrator, said. “This parking lot meets an important need and this public-private partnership has allowed us to develop an area that will benefit residents and visitors, and benefit several amenities that are now available or will soon be available. I want to thank Kent Corporation and The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust for all that they have done to help make this project happen.”
The Houser Street Parking Expansion and Safety Enhancement Project is located directly west of the Muscatine Soccer Complex on the west side of Houser Street. The primary purpose of the project is to design and create a better, safer user experience of the recreational amenities located in the Houser Street corridor. Current plans call for a maximum of three enhanced pedestrian crossings across Houser Street with over 200 parking spaces and four multi-use grass fields.
“We are working with the design firm to complete the plans and specifications of the project so that we can put the project out for bid,” Klimes said.
A professional services agreement with iiw, P.C., for the design and engineering of the project was approved by the Muscatine City Council on May 3. The plans were 80 percent complete Thursday (June 21) but will be complete before the bid posting next week. A bid opening of July 13 was set by the Muscatine City Council at their June 21 meeting.
In addition to the private donations, the City of Muscatine has received a grant from “Branching Out” to plant trees along the west side of Houser Street which will also be the location of a portion of another much-anticipated Muscatine project. The sidewalk between Houser Street and the parking area will be the first section of the planned Westside Trail that, when complete in 2019, will take walkers, runners, and bicyclists from Kent Stein Park to Discovery Park, and provide the final trail link to all recreational centers in the City of Muscatine.
The Branching Out grant also includes trees for the Muscatine Dog Park. A variety of Ohio Buckeye, Autumn Gold Ginkgo, Tulip Tree, White Oak, and Black Tupelo will be used along Houser Street while Northern Pin Oak, Stately Manor Kentucky Coffee Tree, Royal Red Maple, Eastern White Pine, Golden Curls Willow, and Spartan Juniper will be used in the Muscatine Dog Park..
The Houser Street Parking Expansion and Safety Enhancement project sits in the middle of an area of Houser Street that is seeing a lot of expansion in recreational activities. Already home to Kent Stein Park and the Muscatine Soccer Complex, the area now has the Houser Street Pollinator Park and the soon to be open Muscatine Dog Park for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Runoff from the parking area will not go unused as plans are being developed to use that runoff in combination with water from the Muscatine Slough to benefit the Pollinator Park.
Kent Stein Park is a 66 acre facility that has two concession stands, eight lighted baseball diamonds, nine lighted softball diamonds, and nine horseshoe courts along with picnic areas and restroom facilities. The park sits along the banks of an 11-acre slough that also provides fishing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Muscatine Soccer Complex is a 41 acre facility that features eight full-sized, state-of-the-art soccer fields. Two of those fields are internationally sized and lighted. The complex includes a concessions stand, media center, restroom facility, and a parking area.
The Houser Street Pollinator Park, coordinated in its development by the Muscatine Pollinator Project, City of Muscatine, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service, was officially opened on May 19. The 16-acre facility of wet lands and grass lands includes a 1.5 mile trail that takes the traveler through a variety of natural vegetation where birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators visit on their migration routes.
The Muscatine Dog Park sits between the expanded parking area and the Pollinator Park. The first of its kind off-leash dog park in Muscatine will have four fenced off areas for dogs and their owners to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
The West Side Trail will eventually connect Kent Stein Park with Discovery Park. The trail is still being designed but is expected to move up Houser Street before veering off towards Discovery Park.