State of the Park
It was Friday when President Bush held his pep rally at Cedar Rapids' Noelridge Park. It seems the park has survived with minimum damage. (Please note: I don't mind when politicians arrive on official business but it annoys me when they disrupt things for campaigning purposes. I hope that Cedar Rapids sends his campaign a bill for the extra public staff.)
Extra fences lined the park to keep people from entering in an uncontrolled fashion. Many of those still stand (fences, not people). Extra "no parking" signs were put up around Council Street, 42nd Street, Golf Court, and Collins Road. There aren't actually parking spaces on those roads but you know how some people get "clever" when crowds build up. Those signs are still there as well. The garbage trucks and other heavy equipment went home a couple of hours after the rally.
Considering the size of the crowds, there is very little grass damage or garbage. The stream tends to collect any bits of trash in the area. That annoys the frogs living there so it's good that there isn't more crap blowing around. (This is especially important since I've heard that Bush has already annoyed most of the world's frog population.)
Overall, the park is in good shape. We have to ignore the condition of the tennis courts for the time being. They are being replaced and were dug up before the Bush rally. Other than that, things are good.
Noelridge Park has a wonderful flower garden. The city has greenhouses on site and takes great care of the plants. As a result, the garden is always full of bright colors and wonderful scents. Each type of plant has an identifying tag so visitors will know what they're looking. Stone retaining walls give the garden a terraced look. Benches, usually donated and dedicated to memory of some poor soul, are scattered around for the walk-around impaired.
The park is also known for its track. A path of limestone gravel and sand loops around the south half of the park. Markers denote each tenth of a mile. Most of the track is level though there is some variation near the pool and tennis courts.
The pool itself is a year old. Cedar Rapids decided to replace the pools at all of its major parks. Each pool would get rebuilt and gain a water slide and a splash pad, along with a few other amenities. All the pools were rebuilt under budget. The remaining money went into the maintenance fund. This is a great city.
The stream runs through the middle of the park, dividing north from south. It's a nice little stream. Tall grasses line the banks. Red winged black birds nest as close as they can to the water. It's not just there to be beautiful; it serves a purpose. When a city grows, things get paved. Where things are paved, snowmelt and rain can't soak into the ground. All that water has to go somewhere.
That's where urban streams come in. The water can flow into a stream and be guiding to a planned collection area. In our case, the water flows into a pond on the west side of the park. That pond has high, gently sloped banks and can hold a lot of water. Intakes for the storm sewer system attach to the pond. This system allows the water to gradually flow through the storm sewers in a controlled amount with excess kept in the pond. It's a very good plan. It's also a good nesting area for ducks and geese.
I am rather fond of Noelridge Park. Since I moved into an apartment, I've adopted the park as my backyard. That makes me very happy that it survived intact.