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Iowa City Seeks $1.5M to Renovate Campground

August 21, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

leftsideStorm Lake, Iowa, officials are working on the plan for a major renovation and construction of tourist cabins at the publicly owned Sunrise Campground, in hopes of getting the work underway yet this fall.

Currently, $1.5 million is budgeted for the projects, the two remaining pieces of the central Project AWAYSIS lakefront development, according to the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune.

Project AWAYSIS is a community and economic development project that will create cultural, recreational, economic and educational opportunities for all to enjoy. The project will create a new public beach, a lighthouse with a handicapped accessible observation deck, a Great Lawn, a family playground, a redesigned municipal golf course, an expanded and modernized campground, family cabins, a 100-room lodge, an indoor/outdoor water park and a countywide drive trail.

“It is in the works right now,” says City Development Director Mike Wilson. “Obviously there is a lot involved — drainage, water, electrical, sanitary, restroom facilities. Speed is important here, but getting it all done right is even more important.”

Preliminary designs are drawn and are being “tweaked,” and it is hoped that they will be ready for a study session with the city council in early September, with at least part of the project going out for bids in October so that work could begin before winter sets in.

The plan calls for a complete redesign of the 211-site campground on the current site, with a new structure to house offices, vending, restrooms and showers. Camping areas will be laid out with today’s larger RVs as well as traditional tent camping in mind. The campground currently has 86 paved campsites and  125 grass sites, 30 of which are for tents.

Tourist cabins are planned for both sides of Sunrise Park Road in the campground area, ranging from very simple and rustic to more upscale units.

“Like any project, you start out with what you would really like to do, then you work within a budget to determine what we really can afford to do,” Wilson said.

Because the project will not be complete this year, the city must go to the Vision Iowa board in November or December to request as extension. The state program provided $9 million in funding for Project AWAYSIS with the understanding that all of the promised elements would be completed.

Earlier, Vision Iowa granted Storm Lake a one-year extension, while the city had asked for two years.

“At the time they said to come back and tell us where we are at,” Wilson said, “so we think that as long as we are making the good faith effort, we should be alright.”

The city wants to phase in the work at the campground so that there will be as little disruption during the busy travel season as possible. The work may be split into two different contracts toward that end.

Once the cabins and campground are done, only two “associated projects” from the original AWAYSIS plan will remain. A nature interpretive center for the Little Storm Lake area is still under discussion by a committee but is not funded at this time, and a skatepark is being addressed by a committee involving youth volunteers and the city, with some early fundraising taking place but no site as yet selected.

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