This summer, Linn County (Iowa) residents and park-goers will enjoy a newly improved Morgan Creek Park featuring a glowstone walkway.
According to a report, the county’s Conservation Board is holding a ribbon-cutting on June 3 to unveil the large new playground and pavilion located at its new day-use entrance on the park’s south side, 7212 E Ave. NW in Cedar Rapids.
The upgrades also include natural resource enhancements, which will benefit wildlife habitats and water quality on the south side of the park, which complement the campground, arboretum, trails, and natural area in the north part of the park.
The park held a soft opening on Memorial Day weekend so that families could enjoy the new facilities.
Work on the park was initially scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2020; however, the pandemic, derecho, and supply chain problems caused the delay.
The county purchased the initial 104 acres for the park in 1963, adding land over time through donations and purchases.
“At the time we started the park, it was a mile away from Cedar Rapids, and now Cedar Rapids is right at the entrance,” said Ryan Schlader, conservation community outreach specialist. “It’s been an oasis for the west side.”
The park now covers 352 acres, stretching from the west edge of Cedar Rapids north toward Palo.
“This is probably one of the fastest-growing areas in the city,” Deputy Conservation Director Daniel Gibbins said. “There’s something special out here, and a lot of people, grant committees, and donors thought the same thing.”
This $6.2 million project was funded with $3 million from the Linn County Water and Land Legacy Fund, $2.2 million from donations and grants, $500,000 from local-option sale taxes, and $5000 through Linn County Reserve capital funds.
“I think the entire department is extremely excited, and we have residents calling and asking about it all the time,” Gibbins said. “The delays were frustrating, but it’s been done right and well. This is the crescendo of strategic planning over the years.”
Gibbins added that the department is currently looking into a new design and planning phase for the park.
The plans include a new event lodge on the hill next to the new playground and a campground expansion to add 15 camping slots to 30 already there.
“Beyond that, we’re working on planting trees,” Gibbins said. “We completed our derecho cleanup here last winter, finally. This was one of our hardest-hit areas.”