Island Park upgrade punctuates flood recovery

The city of Rock Rapids has come a long way since the flood of 2014 but there’s still more work to be done. However, one of the last major “visible” projects is nearing completion: a new shelter house in Island Park.

The contract deadline for the new shelter house is May 15, and workers have been putting in long hours over the last few weeks to ensure the building is completed before the end of May (the deadline date for FEMA funding).

Rock Rapids Mayor Jason Chase said the new shelter house is one of the results of a park planning study the city did after the flood. Through the study, the city identified that more bathhouse areas were needed in Island Park. “We’ve wanted to add another bathhouse for quite some time now actually, but the problem was that we wanted to add it closer to the camping area and unfortunately that’s actually in the floodway,” said Chase.

Furthermore, because of the location and the elevation of the camping area, it would be impossible for the city to put a sewer line underneath a potential bathhouse in that area. Thus, it was decided the shelter house would be built just north of the pool in the area where the mini zoo used to be.

“After the flood wiped everything out, this was identified as a good location where we could put a shelter with bathrooms that could have a sewer line connecting to it,” explained Chase.

Workers excavated an area along the bike path last week, allowing for a sewer line to connect the shelter house’s bathrooms to the city sewer under North Story Street. “This way we don’t have to have a holding tank or something that you have to pump or empty. The shelter house will be just like any other house; it’ll be hooked right into the sewer system so that it can drain,” said Chase.

The shelter house is 40 feet wide and 66 feet long and includes four unisex bathrooms, each with its own shower. The shelter area has room for 16 tables, and Chase said people will also be able to sit on a large brick retaining wall. The stonework on the outside of the retaining wall will match the smaller shelter house built last year near the old train bridge.

Chase also said the bathroom hallway will have plenty of counter space. “There will be outlets above the counters on both sides of the hallway, so if you want to have a picnic down there you can bring your own roasters and things like that.”

The mayor said the new shelter house is one of the last major post-flood funding projects, but added that it’s just the beginning of things the city would like to do in Island Park. “The shelter house is definitely a nice upgrade for our park. The bathrooms are easily accessible because it’s located right on the bike trail. So it’s definitely the last major project but there are still a lot of other things we’d like to get done.”

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