CEDAR FALLS TO WATERLOO, IOWA: Cedar Falls and Waterloo are coming together to celebrate what unites the valley geographically and economically–the Cedar River, its trail system, and its downtown public spaces.
Last year INRCOG released its proposal for the “Cedar Valley River Experience”–developed with the help of economic development and planning consultant Vandewalle & Associates.
The River Experience document communicates a new way of looking at both communities shared assets, and focuses on linking the downtowns of Waterloo and Cedar Falls through the river.
“It’s been a marathon … but it will open up a lot of opportunities,” said Nick Fratzke, the agency’s community development specialist. “We realized we had something right here.”
The Cedar River itself has already become a designated paddling destination, and plans are underway for other projects along the river and creek.
Project opportunities also focus on the chain of lakes, which include Alice Wyth, Fisher, George Wyth, Shirley, Manatt and Brinker lakes, as well as the Sans Souci island.
Vern Fish, the former executive director of the Black Hawk County Conservation Board and avid paddler, echoed INRCOG’s statement that the water trail designations has connected communities. He said members of the Meskwaki tribe first came to the area because of the water.
“Water has tied communities together since day one,” Fish said. “If we get people wet … you don’t have to go to the Arctic Circle or the tip of South America … you can go right here in our own backyard.”