Category Archives: News Articles

Terri Dowell Face of the Day

Our own neighbor and FPNA board member Terri Dowell has a write up in the Daily Nonpariel “Face of the Day”. Please see the link Below. Enjoy.

The Daily Nonpariel Face of the Day

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Return To Fairmount Park

What do we have to look forward to this coming year of 2015? I’m sure all of you are very excited about November’s announcement from the city to invest in a major renewal project for Fairmount Park. The “Return to Fairmount Park” project will be a nearly $1 million project over the coming year. We want to recognize that this is being made possible, in part, by a $100,000 lead donation from the Rotary Club of Council Bluffs as their celebrate their 100th year of service.
Once considered the greatest park in the area and a regional destination, Fairmount Park has a history of being one of the premier parks in the country in the early parts of the last century. It featured a greenhouse, ice-skating, sledding, a petting zoo and an old bell tower. Council Bluffs’ trolley streetcars once had a stop at Fairmount Park. You can find further details on the project at the link below.


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Old KOIL Radio Station is now five apartments

If you did not catch Mary Lou McGinn’s excellent article about the KOIL building in our neighborhood (600 Huntington Avenue) please see the below link to the site. Enjoy

Old KOIL Radio Station is now five apartments

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Neighborhood Associations Defend Council Bluffs

Neighborhood Association representatives met at the Neighborhood Center (136 South Main) to publicly refute the Nonpareil article and the online report about ranking Council Bluffs the 56th most dangerous city in America.

Those present included City Councilmen Nate Watson, Dan Rhodes President of Kainsville-Tinley Neighborhood Association, John Marshall Vice President of North Broadway Neighborhood Association and myself as President of the Farirmount Park Neighborhood Association.

I’ve included the link to the Nonpareil and KMTV news story. I encourage everyone to read the article and review the broadcast to form their own opinions.

Nonpareil: Danger Zone? County supervisor proposes crime and safety commission

KMTV3: Council Bluffs More Dangerous than Chicago

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FPNA: Selected as Finalist for 2014 Neighborhood of the Year (NOTY)

The Fairmount Park Neighborhood Association has been selected as a finalist for the 2014 Neighborhood of the Year (NOTY) award. Back in February we submitted our FPNA Pole Project as our entry to the 2014 Neighborhood of the Year (NOTY) awards.

The 2014 NOTY awards from Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) marks the 30th year that NUSA will recognize the outstanding work of neighborhood organizations across the United States for their work in improving the quality of life in their communities. Our entry was in the Physical Revitalization/Beautification category. Entrants were judged on Self Help/Financial Capability, Grassroots Involvement, Innovativeness, Community Benefit, Sustainability., Leadership Development , Partnership Building , Volunteerism and Ability to be Replicated.

The winners of the 2014 NOTY will be announced on May 22nd. at the 2014 NUSA conference in Eugene, Oregon. This is the annual conference of Neighborhoods for the United States. I want to thank all of our FPNA volunteers who have worked on our Pole project from writing grants, creating budgets, digging holes, erecting poles, hanging banners, planting flower baskets and constructing decorations. Your time, energy and effort is greatly appreciated.

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FPNA Banner Pole Installation Phase One Complete

The installation of the FPNA identification banner poles has been a long-term goal of ours that is starting to come to fruition.

Back in 2009 we participated in a design Charette with the Iowa Architecture Foundation (IAF). While there were many good ideas from the IAF the banner/pole/flower basket seemed to catch everyone’s attention and that is what we chose to focus on.

It has taken a few years to reach this point. We first needed to build up our treasury while still undertaking other improvement and beautification projects around the neighborhood. We remained frugal because we always knew what the end goal needed to be.

We are now seeing the first phases of this project complete. We have poles/banners and baskets installed at the entrances to our neighborhood that will help strengthen a sense of belonging and empower neighbors to actively participate in the neighborhood and the community.

I first want to thank the organizations that, without their assistance, this would not have been possible. We received grants from The Pottawattomie County Community Foundation (PCCF) and from CURB (Creating the Ultimate Residential Beautification)

Both organizations were very gracious about the delays in manufacturing and the weather conditions that caused us to be behind schedule. The FPNA very much appreciates their continued commitment to helping organizations like ours achieve the goals we set for ourselves, our neighborhood and our community.

I want to thank the grant writer – Sharon Babbitt, who poured over the applications and helped communicate our intent in the best possible terms.

To the installation crew, Dave Huggins and Mike Ring and myself who dug, poured concrete, set anchor bolts, got muddy, got drenched but persevered to make it happen.

To Michelle Mutchler-Burns, who will be the care taker of the flower baskets so that they continue to inspire and impress all who visit our neighborhood.

This is only the first phase, we have more installation locations planned so the hard work isn’t quite done. But now that we kinda know what we are doing it might not be so painful. Thanks again to everyone who has participated over the years on this project.

For photos from the installation “CLICK HERE”.

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Fairmount Park NA Identification Poles Installed

by Sharon Babbitt

The Fairmount Park Neighborhood Association took steps to achieve a long-held goal with the installation of the first of what we hope will be many identification poles at the entrances to our neighborhood earlier this month. These 14 ft. tall aluminum poles display custom designed banners and professionally planted flower baskets intended to call attention to the historic district in which they are located. The banners, designed by graphic artist and Neighborhood Association President Kyle Muschall, proclaim that this is the Fairmount Park neighborhood and the Park/Glen Historic District. The flower baskets were planted by Sherbondy’s Garden Center.

The initial goal of this project was to visually unite our widespread neighborhood. We realized that it would be a costly venture and has conservatively moved forward with various fund raising projects, such as garage sales, home tours, donations from interested individuals, and the dues paid by its many members. Grants were obtained from the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation (PCCF) and the Creating the Ultimate Residential Beautification group (CURB) administered by Keep Council Bluffs Beautiful. Working together, the first phase of this ambitious program was achieved this month, but phase two will continue as more of these beautiful installations are slated to begin later this year.

On June 28th beginning at 6:30 p.m., the neighborhood association will hold a pot luck party to thank the people who helped make this project possible, including our talented volunteers who actually did the installation work. It will be held at 445 Glen Ave., the site of one of the completed poles, and is open to the public.

Photo By Kyle Muschall

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FPNA honored by the C.B. Historical Preservation Commission

We had a great turn out May 15 for the Council Bluffs Historical Preservation Commission awards. The get together was held in the lobby of the newly renovated Hugh-Irons Building in the 100 Block of Broadway. Mayor Tom Hanafan spoke and read a proclamation promoting May as Historical Preservation month. The officers of the Historical Preservation Commission then awarded three Neighborhood Associations, Fairmount Park, Gibraltar, and Lincoln-Fairview their yearly awards in recognition for the everyday efforts that our organizations commit themselves to keep intact what we think makes our neighborhoods unique. Efforts like working with the Parks Department to restore the Kirn Park stadium. The Brick Street Initiative that we’ve partnered with the C.B. Public Works Department and the Gibraltar NA to maintain our Historical designation. And the simple acts of volunteerism like food and clothing drives, providing lunches to Habitat for Humanity. It was a great occasion to talk with folks who have the same interests and intent as our Fairmount Park Neighborhood. For the photos from the event CLICK HERE

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Three Council Bluffs neighborhood associations honored

By Tim Rohwer

Three Council Bluffs neighborhood associations have been busy in recent years doing “everyday” things to preserve the historical charm of their area.

Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed.

On Thursday, they were awarded the 2013 Preservation Award by the Council Bluffs Historic Preservation Commission.

The commission recognized the Fairmount Park, Gibraltar, and the Lincoln Fairview associations for doing “everyday things that people can do,” as one city official said.

“We want to recognize the efforts of neighborhood associations to preserve their neighborhoods,” said Cal Petersen, chairman of the historical commission.

The Fairmount Park Association, according to Petersen, oversaw the renovation of the grandstand at Kirn Park, sponsored clean-up days, gave tours of the homes in the neighborhood that underwent restoration, purchased historical banners for street poles, etc.

The Gibraltar association helped the Fairmount group restore the brick streets, as well as helping with the Kirn project. It even purchased a security camera to be placed there to discourage vandals. It also sponsored fundraising events for the historic General Dodge House, and even publishes a frequent newsletter to keep residents informed on projects.

The Lincoln Fairview association purchased street sign banners for Oakland Avenue, as well as benches for the Lincoln Monument and a security camera for the Black Angel statue. That group also publishes a newsletter.

“It’s about neighborhoods saying, ‘We need to preserve what we have,’” Mayor Tom Hanafan said. “We have a community that supports a lot of efforts.”

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New ‘historic’ homes may come to 400 block of Park Avenue

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 2:39 pm, Tue Jan 15, 2013.

By Tim Rohwer – Daily Nonpareil

A local developer says it is “doable.”

So do Council Bluffs officials. Efforts are being made to develop a vacant stretch in the Park/Glen Neighborhood with homes to fit the historical characteristics of that area.

Officials have just sent requests for proposals to potential developers to build at least four single-family homes meeting certain historical characteristics in the 400 block of Park Avenue.

Proposals are to be returned to the Community Development Department no later than March 1, said spokeswoman Brenda Carrico.

“You always hope for a good response,” she said.

Over a period of time, the city acquired titles through the court system to the properties located at 401, 409, 431, 435 and 441 Park Avenue. Efforts to seek improvements on those houses were unsuccessful.

“We boarded them up for years,” Carrico said.

A study last year found renovation of the homes there was financially unfeasible, she said. Five structures were recently demolished. One of the city’s objectives in redeveloping that property is building residential structures consistent with the historic character of the immediate area. The Park/Glen Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is very important to the city,” said Don Gross, director of the Community Development Department. “Approximately 50 percent of the scoring (developer selection) is design.”

Gross said other cities have probably done a similar project, but the actions here are not modeled after any outside models.

“The city owns six lots and we want to sell them and see what development happens,” he said. “This is not really any different than the city selling lots in the Nash Boulevard subdivision or north of Sunset Park.”

Carrico described the neighborhood’s character as being in the late 19th Century Victorian style with homes being at least two stories and featuring a wrap-around porch and gable-type roofs.

“I think they are on the right track,” said John Jerkovich, a local developer.

Many so-called in-fill homes, those being built in the heart of the city, are two-story structures, he said.

Gross doesn’t think the historical requirements will be difficult for developers.

“We don’t believe so. Constructing a two-story structure with a gable roof and a front porch would go a long way at matching the scale, density, and character of the neighborhood. It’s not a question whether builders can build homes at this location. We have many qualified and capable builders in this community. The question is, can they sell the homes?

The six lots have been appraised for $67,700, which equates to $11,283 per lot, according to Gross.

“The city is obligated to sell the property for appraised value, which is $67,700,” he said. “However, we would consider financing the value of the lots for the right project.”

At least four structures have to be built to qualify for Enterprise Zone tax benefits that encourage development, Carrico said.

Based on financial needs, the city will consider various options on the sale of the land. In addition, property tax abatement may be available for eligible housing projects.

“We’re willing to participate financially in projects based on needs,” Carrico said.

That’s good, according to Jerkovich.

“It can be doable if the price doesn’t get too high,” he said. “Don and Brenda are open-minded and great to work with.”

“We assume that the need to build the homes to fit the historic nature of the neighborhood could have some costs, but not to an amount that would make the project unfeasible,” Gross added.

Following the March 1 deadline, she and other department officials will recommend a developer to the City Council at its late March meeting, Carrico said.

With approval, the chosen developer would have two years to complete the project, she said.

If for some reason there aren’t any takers for this project, the city would wait and try again when market conditions improve, Gross said. Nevertheless, there has been interest already, he quickly said.

“I think it will be OK,” Jerkovich said.

Historic homes    Historic homes  Historic homes

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