The Vision Iowa Board awarded 23 projects around the state with Community Attraction and Tourism — or “CAT” — grants this year, including those located in Harlan, Coon Rapids, Templeton and Winterset, Board spokesperson Jessica O’Riley says the CAT program reached a big milestone in 2013. “The total CAT project costs, from the very first CAT award to this year, topped one-billion dollars,” O’Riley says.
The CAT program was launched 14 years ago. In 2013, the total CAT project costs topped 42-million dollars ($42 million). The Vision Iowa Board awarded just over five-point-five million dollars ($5.5 million) to those projects.
The smallest CAT grant award this year was 25-thousand dollars ($25,000) toward the construction of a park pavilion in the small northwest Iowa town of Moville. The largest awards went to massive projects in Des Moines and Pella. The Vision Iowa Board awarded a one-million dollar grant to the Pella Sports Park project, which carries a total price tag of nearly $7.5 million. Officials in Pella believe the facility, once opened in 2015, will draw regional tournaments.
Locally: The Merrill Field Renovation Project in Harlan and the Templeton Community Center Project each received $200,000 from Vision Iowa; A project that incorporates the construction of 35 miles of state-of-the-art “soft trails” through a seven-square-mile landscape at Whiterock Conservancy near Coon Rapids, received $400,000, and the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset also received $400,000 from Vision Iowa.
The biggest CAT grant awarded in 2013 was $1.1 million for the renovation of a 35-year-old public space in downtown Des Moines formerly known as Nollen Plaza. The $9.7 million project, called Cowles Commons, will include gardens, a new water feature, and a new stage for Des Moines Performing Arts programs.