CLINTON — The Clinton City Council heard an update on the progress of projects benefiting from the city being named an Iowa Great Place during the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday.

In October of 2005, a special advisory panel designated Clinton as one of the state’s three Great Places pilot cities, along with Coon Rapids and Sioux City, and the state legislature appropriated $1 million to each city. On Tuesday, Dan Blohm, chairman of the Clinton Iowa Great Places Task Force, offered the council a revised budget summary of how the $1 million Great Places project funding is being spent among the projects designed by the Great Places Committee. Blohm advised that the $1 million in grant funding needs to be spent by June of 2008.

The Clinton Great Places project, “Even More Things to Do With a River View,” consisted of eight elements including bridge arches, a disc golf course, the Clinton Sawmill Heritage Experience Museum, a public fitness area and sculpture garden near the U.S. 30 bridge, playground equipment at Eagle Point Park, a public beach near Joyce’s Slough, development of North River Drive and repairs and expansion of Eagle Point Park, including replacement of playground equipment, repair of the Thousand Steps, addition of a disc golf course and campsites and the construction of a 200-foot tall lighthouse/observation tower.

Blohm said an additional $58,000 was spent for surfacing material at the playground in Eagle Point Park. He suggested the city hire an external company to install the material as the Parks and Recreation Department has been very busy as of late. Funds in the amount of $13,500 have been set aside for the installation costs.

Blohm said the new material and equipment can be installed by the end of the month as the installation company has an opening on Thursday. He noted the company said the installation would take approximately five to seven business days. He said the Parks Department will remove the existing playground equipment, but Blohm said it might not be wise to remove the equipment now, just before the Fourth of July celebration and crews could experience delays due to adverse weather.

According to Blohm, project representatives may push the project date back if the company cannot guarantee the new equipment will be in place by the holiday, when more families would be utilizing the park. The new equipment cost $57,122 and was covered by matching funds from private sector grants and local sources.

He added that funds have been shifted for new bathrooms in the park. Blohm said the bathrooms in the north end of the park will be rebuilt and the south end bathrooms will be refurbished at a total cost of $75,000.

Equipment for the disc golf course has been purchased and is ready to be installed. Blohm anticipates the installation to take place this summer. The total disc golf course project cost is $17,660 with $11,160 appropriated out of the $1 million and another $6,500 in matching funds secured from a variety of sources. He remarked that the total Eagle Point Park Great Places expenditure amounts to $144,160.

He said the $68,250 for the public art and sculpture garden allocated from the Great Places funds is “slightly tentative” because of the timeline. The sculptures would have to be purchased by next year and project representatives are in contact with two local artists regarding obtaining pieces through purchase or commission. Blohm noted that because a permanent location has not been chosen for the sculpture garden, the pieces could be located elsewhere in the meantime until a more suitable location is found. The total sculpture garden project cost is budgeted at $105,000.

He said the welcome arches project cost $104,000, about $3,000 over what was initially budgeted. In this project, two signs over 10 feet tall and nearly 50 feet wide will be placed facing westbound motorists on each Clinton bridge spanning the Mississippi River. The signs will bear the words “Welcome to Iowa” and “Clinton On the Mississippi,” with both phrases worked into a design that represents waves, a ship’s wheel and a cross section of a log to connect with the city’s lumber mill heritage.

Blohm noted the Clinton Sawmill Heritage Experience is allocated $490,000 from the $1 million and the project recently received a $100,000 grant. The estimated phase one project cost is $750,000, while the total project is estimated to cost $25 million.

Funds allocated for those projects total $806,410. Blohm said based on what could be done in the next year regarding the two remaining projects, the public beach and the North River Drive project, the committee plans to use the balance of $180,090 for the beach project. He said the beach would be located between Willow and Joyce’s islands and is expected to cost $480,000. The $180,090 would provide funding to bring sand in for the beach and open it, but not enough to build a bathroom facility there just yet.

Blohm said the large North River Drive project was pushed because officials are not sure that land acquisition could be done within the next year. He said that because of the short time frame, the Great Places Committee is working on an accelerated schedule but is attempting to make sure the money is spent prudently. He advised that because of time constraints, the committee may request the ability to circumvent the normal bid process. Blohm said the money will be gone if it is not spent by the deadline and the committee doesn’t want the city to lose out. He added that the Great Places Committee will continue their work with the projects and look for funding wherever possible. Councilman At-Large Ron Mallicoat commended the committee for doing well with the numerous projects and asked them to keep up the good work.