The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced it has awarded more than $1.2 million in Iowa Great Places funding for 10 projects in seven Iowa communities, including the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton. The DCA awarded funding to: The Danish Villages; Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty; Hamilton/Webster counties; Marion; Tama County; Turkey River; and the Villages of Van Buren County. The seven communities requested a total of more than $1.5-million for 14 different projects. The awards announced today (Monday) come from the Iowa Great Places program to support vertical infrastructure projects.
Locally, the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park Project received $90,000, and, the Little Mermaid Trail and Park Improvements Project received $111,410. The total award for both projects amounts to more than $201,000. The Danish Immigrant Museum had sought Great Places support for Phase II of the installation of the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park. Danish Villages has completed installation of the Jens Jensen Heritage Brick Plaza and planting of 20 acres of the park. The park is a tribute to Jensen, who was one of America’s greatest landscape designers and conservationists of the early 20th century. The park is planted with his philosophies in mind, enhancing the visitor’s overall museum experience. Completion of the park will increase opportunities to attract new audiences to the museum and the Danish Villages.
The Little Mermaid Trail will connect the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton with a recreational trail beginning at the sculpture of the Little Mermaid in Kimballton and ending at the State of Iowa Welcome Center on the Danish Windmill grounds in Elk Horn. This project is Phase II of the Little Mermaid Park Improvements and Hans Christian Andersen Sculpture Garden. Requested funds will be used to offset the costs of new and safer playground equipment, a sculpture garden and walkway, and ADA compliant restroom facilities.
Janell Hansen, General Manager of the Marne & Elk Horn Telephone Company said she was “Proud of all the volunteers who have come together to dream about and plan for the future of The Danish Villages. They are all motivated to make improvements that bring people together and make this a better community.” She added, the projects focus on enhancing the quality of life outdoors and encouraging people to get out and enjoy the parks and trails. The grants from Iowa Great Places have leveraged other local dollars and infused over $650,000 into the communities over 2 years.
This year’s grants will leverage local funding in public-private partnerships for projects that are represented by everything from public art to adaptive re-use of a historic property. Once completed, the projects will offer residents and visitors exciting and unique quality of life experiences. In turn, those experiential attractions are expected to draw tourists, and attract businesses and prospective employees while boosting the local economy.