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Local

Building a bridge between DMACC and Newton

Proposed greenspace project will link city and college planners say

Joe’s Old Fashioned Carnival made use of the green space on the DMACC campus during last year’s Newton Fest celebration.
Joe’s Old Fashioned Carnival made use of the green space on the DMACC campus during last year’s Newton Fest celebration.

The green space at Newton’s DMACC Maytag campus is ready for its closeup.

DMACC administrators and city officials are working together on a plan to transform the space, something they hope will build a bridge between downtown Newton and the DMACC campus.

Jeff Davidson, a community coach working under contract for Jasper County, hopes the proposal will create a signature attraction in Newton, drawing people in to the site, home of the original Maytag factory. City officials in Newton are working with DMACC administrators to start the process of transforming the green space the heart of DMACC’s campus into something they hope will be a centerpiece for the entire community.

Even though DMACC’s campus is a short two blocks from the heart of downtown Newton, Davidson said he thinks there’s a sense that DMACC is “set apart” from downtown Newton, something he hopes to change. Creating a green space in the vacant lot would give the City of Newton a centerpiece that would help draw attention to both the City of Newton and DMACC.

“There’s a lot of capacity there to do things that benefit Newton and benefit DMACC,” Davidson said. “If you look at that area between downtown and the campus, there are some undeveloped parcels that are really potentially great sites for housing, mixed use development, kind of a downtown neighborhood type development, green space will be a great catalyst for that.”

Working together with Kim Didier, DMACC’s executive director of business resources, along with city officials in Newton the group is taking the first steps toward realizing that dream. Previously, DMACC invited students from Iowa State University to submit ideas for ways to transform the area into a new green space. Now the college is looking to take the next steps toward putting those plans into action. After reviewing proposals from several architectural firms Didier said DMACC is close to finalizing an agreement with one of the firms.

“We’ve narrowed it down to one firm that we’d like to contract with to do the master planning,” Didier said. “We want to build on the concepts that the ISU students submitted.”

In addition to tying Newton’s downtown together with DMACC, Didier said completing the green space will also tie DMACC’s campus together. The land was part of DMACC’s initial space, and now that DMACC has taken over the remainder of the former Maytag campus Didier hopes the area will serve as a bridge between the two spaces. Didier said once a contract is signed she expects the planning process will take between four to six months, and weather permitting, she’s hoping to start work on the project soon after that.

In order to fund the project, both Didier and Davidson said funding will need to come from several different sources in order to make the project work. Davidson said project leaders are looking into applying for Community Attraction Tourism, or CAT grant to cover some of the costs associated with the project. To qualify for the grant the project will need to have enough appeal to draw people in from outside of the community Davidson said. Qualifying for the funding can be tough, but Davidson said he believes the project could have appeal beyond Newton.

“You’d better have your ducks in a row when you go in to apply for that, because it can be really rigorous,”Davidson said. “I think we have the potential to develop a really great project with the ‘wow’ factor puts Newton on the map.”

Finding a firm to develop a master plan for the site who already has previous CAT experience is an important factor in the project Didier said. She’d like to see a proposal that builds off Newton’s rich history while pointing to a bright future.

“We want something authentic to the community and to our heritage, but also something that propels us forward,” Didier said.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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