The Ottumwa Courier

July 16, 2012

Lazy river idea has merit, but ...

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — There’s no question that a swimming pool or aquatic facility is a great asset for any community, especially when it’s hot and dry like this summer has been thus far.

And the concept of the addition of a lazy river to The Beach Ottumwa sounds pretty good. After all, it could prove popular among Ottumwans as well as visitors to our community. It’s appeal is clear.

What’s not clear is how to pay for it and what it could mean to the overall look and feel of Sycamore Park.

The current estimates are $2.3 million to $2.5 million, depending on which option is picked. But in the current economy, finding an extra $2.5 million in city coffers will surely prove challenging.

Of course, this is early is the planning stages, and the parks board, and ultimately the City Council, will decide if Ottumwa should move forward on this idea.

Before that, however, officials want to hear from you. What do Ottumwans want? What would you like to see at The Beach?

And perhaps the city and the parks department are already considering this and will investigate possible private-public partnerships in funding the lazy river. We hope the city would consider alternative sources to funding the project besides taxpayer dollars.

There’s also the concern that expansion of The Beach could impact the beautiful trees and open green spaces at Sycamore Park. How many trees would have to be removed? Is there a way to develop a lazy river without tree removal and how to we keep as much green space available.

This idea is only in the planning stages, but community input, creative funding ideas and a eye toward being sensitive to those who love Sycamore Park’s green space should be addressed.

A lazy river could improve upon Ottumwa’s quality of life, but it’s going to take hard work, novel financing ideas and a willingness from the entire community to make this possible.