Grant will help CIA add lights to Memorial Park

By Kelly Terpstra,

Memorial Park, located at the corner of Brantingham and Clark Street, will see some added improvements in the coming months courtesy of a grant application that was approved Tuesday in Charles City by the Cultural and Entertainment District Steering Committee.

The Cultural and Entertainment Grant was requested by the City Improvement Association, which owns Memorial Park. With the money, light posts with LED lighting will be constructed at each of end of the public seating area.

The lights will provide light from dusk to sunrise throughout the year and will make it safer for those walking after dark or for those just wanting to sit and watch the fountain, according to the grant application.

The plan calls for using existing light poles donated by Kamm Excavating Corp. and reconstructing two light poles from the three that were donated. The estimated cost of the project is $5,267 and the amount of funds approved is $2,633.50. An additional $1,200 is coming from the donation of the light posts and $1,433.50 from the Andres Memorial Trust.

The proposed starting date for construction is July 1 with a completion date of Oct. 1. The work done should be completed much sooner than that, according to the committee.

The park features a lighted fountain, crosswalk and four benches. It was dedicated on July 2, 1993.

The City Improvement Association is celebrating its 115th year this year. The organization was started when the presidents of four women’s groups in the city called a meeting to discuss ways to beautify the community, according to information supplied by current President Cherie Schafer.

The group started with having diagonal walks installed across Central Park, then went on to support park lighting, other walkways and cleanup projects in various parts of town including the riverbanks.

A highlight was the anti-spitting campaign in 1906 that drew opposition from men who would sit on benches along the storefronts and see who could spit closest to the cracks in the boardwalks, Schafer said, referring to information from 1946 notes by Kate McLeod.

The women objected to the expectoration because their long dresses and scarves would wipe up the spittle as they walked down the boardwalks.

“After the ordinance was passed, and a few men were fined, the practice declined,” McLeod’s notes say.

Today the CIA owns and maintains 11 parks in Charles City, including the Memorial Park. There are currently 92 members in the organization, which has the mission to “enrich the lifestyle of Charles City citizens and visitors by developing areas of natural beauty for their enjoyment,” Schafer said.