December 04, 2023

Downtown park nears the end of fundraising

City to begin searching for design firms and then provide contract to council

Fundraising for the downtown park in Newton is almost completed.

Currently, the committee leading fundraising only needs to raise about another $20,000 for the project, according to Newton Main Street Director Erin Yeager. Volunteers have raised more than 60 percent of funding for the estimated $625,000 park project, which includes spray fountain water features.

Newton Community Services Director Brian Laube provided an update on the downtown park project to the city council members on March 6. The park is located at 224 W. Third St. N., which is immediately west of Bank Iowa, north of the city’s parking lot and east of the Best Western Holiday Manor.

The city committed the land for the project and $225,000 of financial support.

Yeager said the committee has applied for grants and is waiting to hear back from other donors in the community to finish off the last remaining funds.

Although staff is collaborating with the committee leading the park project, the city council still has the final say. Which ultimately means the city maintains full control of the project after the concept plan is submitted to staff. Recently, the city and the committee met this milestone.

“We’ve got the concept plan, so basically the next step there … the city will begin the competitive process resulting in a recommendation of design contract,” Laube said. “Fancy words. What that means is I will go out and prepare a request for services from different design firms, I’ll work with the committee.”

At some point city staff will bring a design services contact to city council for approval. The city will then move forward with construction of the park after the committee’s fundraising is completed.

Previous council meetings and discussions referred to the project as Harmony Park or the splash pad, but it is now being called the downtown park. As part of the agreement, the city has full authority over the name of the park. Of course, the project is no stranger to changes.

Early concept plans were that of a splash pad that highly emphasized the water features alongside a shared public green space. Then a shelter was added. Then some trees. Then some parking spaces for food trucks, and interactive musical sculptures for children to enjoy. The water features became less emphasized.

Rough designs show an even more updated design. The circular water areas have since turned into a kidney-shaped zone with spray foundations and nearby shade structures. Interactive art, food truck ordering pads and a pet relief area remain but have been altered slightly.

The shelter would provide restrooms and a performative stage area, along with shaded seating. Apart from the water feature zone, the biggest addition is the open lawn area for events. Some donated benches will also be installed in the park, with some having the potential to be memorialized.

For those interested in making a donation to the downtown park fundraising efforts, contact Newton Main Street at

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.