The Linn County Board of Supervisors reported out of its prior closed-session approval of an agreement for the acquisition of 485 acres of timbered woodland, pasture and hay ground, and cropland situated along Squaw Creek and adjacent to Squaw Creek Park at its Monday, Nov. 28 board meeting. The transaction to purchase the land was agreed upon in a Closed Session of the Board of Supervisors on November 8, 2016 and was the result of negotiations stretching back to July of this year with representatives of the Sutherland Dows Family Trust, the longtime owners of the land.
The purchase price for the strategic land and creek conservation acquisition was $7.2 million. Linn County will finance the real estate transaction from multiple sources, including local option sales tax revenues designated for Conservation projects, general obligation bonds issued based on establishment of an urban renewal area, budget reserves, and the future resale of non-strategic conservation land parcels included within the acquisition that will become developable due to its proximate location to Highway 13 and Mt. Vernon Road. None of the recently voter approved $40,000,000 Linn County Water and Land Legacy Bonds will be used in the purchase of the land.
In addition, the City of Marion has collaborated with Linn County in the land acquisition to establish a largescale environmentally-friendly constructed wetland of reed grasses with an underground water-treatment complex on approximately five to ten acres of land that runs along the main sanitary wastewater system.
“Linn County has taken another major step forward in its mission of making areas available for public parks, trails and recreation, along with the active promotion of conservation of its land, water, and natural resources. Parks and public lands serve an essential role in preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat, protecting clean water and clean air, and providing open space for current and future generations. This strategic conservation land acquisition adds hundreds of acres to the nearly 700 acre existing Linn County Squaw Creek Park, will serve to protect a significant portion of the Squaw Creek stream corridor and greenway, allow for future trail connections to the Sac & Fox and Grant Wood trail systems in Cedar Rapids and Marion, and expand the internal park trail systems for horseback riding, mountain biking, and day-hiking,” said Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson.
The land acquisition will be subject to public input and future master-planning processes conducted by the Linn County Conservation Board and the Board of Supervisors. The Linn County Conservation Board and Department were established by a vote of the people of Linn County in 1958 and now manages over 7,000 acres in the form of parks, preserves, natural areas, and trails.
The Board of Supervisors will discuss the establishment of an Urban Renewal District for the acquired property at its Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Board meeting at 10:00 a.m. in the Linn County Public Service Center, 935 2nd St. SW, Cedar Rapids. Citizens are encouraged to attend for any public comment during the meeting and Supervisor Oleson will be available upon adjournment for any specific questions or details regarding the land acquisition, future conservation projects, or the financing sources for the project.