Renovations of Ron-de-Voo Park's alley side are nearly complete, a project that began with West Liberty's Rotary Club and branched out to the entire community.
"By being an organization that could give foundation to the project, we hoped that it would snowball," said Rotary member Steve Hanson. "We could guarantee a minimum, but if others were willing to jump in than we could do more."
They got their wish.
What began as a $10,000 project by Rotary to place eight planters in the park on Third Street has ballooned into a complete makeover, transforming the back side of the park into a community resting area.
The front part of Ron-de-Voo, situated between the New Strand Theatre and WL Foods, boasts a stage, seating and trees. However, its back side was severely lacking with a clump of grass and a bike holder.
Now the 1,500 square foot area is completely filled with thousands of granite pavers, hundreds of midwest plants, and eight amber colored planters.
"We wanted to do a project for West Liberty which was already a part of the community's vision, not bring in something new that Rotary thought was important," said Hanson about the project's beginning.
Around six years ago the community drew up plans to renovate the park; however, until last summer little had been done to forward the vision.
Rotary picked it up, pledging $10,000 towards renovations. Half of the cost was matched by Rotary District 6000, which is in charge of all the Rotary clubs in the area. The other half would come from the WL Club and fundraising.
Right from the beginning the Ryan Trust granted $2,500 towards the renovation, while Community Bridge jumped in with a $850 donation. The first and only planned phase was all coming together.
But, as All American Concrete began installing the planters, it threw out an offer that Rotary just couldn't refuse.
"We had a successful auction this year, so we were ready to wrap it up and write the check, but then All American Concrete got access to granite pavers at $.50 a piece," said Hanson.
Granite pavers, small cubes around 3 inches in width, typically cost $2 a piece. However, with the price reduction an entire new granite walk could be laid out for around $6,000.
Bill Simon, owner of All American concrete, not only found a great deal, but donated his company's time to excavate the land, install the granite and fill in the soil, dirt and stones. He also acid blasted the planters for protection.
A second phase of reconstruction soon began
Soon after Cindy Mays had MidWestOne Bank donate $3,000 while Jerry Melick, on behalf of the Melick Foundation, donated another $1,500 towards purchasing the granite pavers.
As for foliage, the planters and spaces between were stuffed with sturdy perennial greens and grass that represent the Midwest.
The ecological landscape design, created by Iowa City's Back Yard Abundance, is meant to be favorable to birds, insects and humans.
"They're all Iowa native, with the exception of a few, and hearty," said Hanson. "Some will bloom in the summer, some in the spring and some in the fall so there will always be some color there."
Several Rotary members were on hand Saturday morning, Aug. 2, to plant and water the flowers, bushes and grass. They also smoothed out the landscape.
A hydrant will be installed to finish out the second phase of reconstruction in Ron-de-Voo. While a final price tag has yet to be determined, Hanson roughly estimates it will come in at a value of $30,000 to $40,000.
That includes the several donations from the community and its businesses and the labor provided by All American Concrete.
"We couldn't just leave it half finished," added Hanson. "We knew we needed dirt in the planters and some new grass at least."
However, thanks to the community, the original project surpassed its original vision. The area is now available to visit anytime during the day.
Ron-de-Voo ready for youJacob Lane · Wednesday, August 6, 2014