OTTAWA — In 2007, the village of Ottawa suffered its worst flood in more than 100 years.
In the last decade, the village has been working on how to repurpose areas that flooded.
On Sunday, the community celebrated the completion of Phase 1, the dedication of the Rex Center Park in downtown Ottawa.
The property that was Paul’s Hardware and before that, the Rex Theater, is now green space with an amphitheater.
“This is a FEMA-purchased property. We got over 50 properties in town and basically what we’re doing is seeing what we can do to improve those for the folks in Ottawa to be able to utilize and use them for productive reasons,” said Tim Macke, chairman of the Greenspace Development Committee.
Plans to repurpose the flood-prone properties started in 2017.
“A few of us got together and said we’ll try to get something started. We then had a community forum in August of 2017 and from that forum, we got some ideas on where people think we ought to be approaching this,” Macke said.
As the result of the forum, the community and local service clubs believed an entertainment venue would be a great thing to have downtown.
“Especially the Rotary Club and the Jaycees, Kiwanis, those organizations are very interested because they can utilize this for events and that type of thing,” said Macke.
Two other phases are in the works. One includes the development of two soccer fields between Maple and Sugar Streets, while the other is the development of Arrowhead Park on the west end of the city, which would include canoe access, a picnic area as well as bike and walking trails.
“Phase 2 and 3, it’s really kind of dependant upon what funding we can get, writing for grants and things like that. We’re at about $230,000 right now and $500,000 to develop all of the green space that we can in the village,” he said.
During the dedication of the Rex Center, attendees were entertained by dancers from The Dance Center, and Gene Hovest presented information on the history of the Rex Theater.
Free food was also provided by the Ottawa-Glandorf Rotary Club and the Ottawa-Glandorf Jaycees.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.