- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - It’s built like a brick … beach house. Well, actually, it’s concrete block.

Either way, it’s restoring a nostalgic part of the quality of life in Cedar Falls current and future generations will be able to enjoy for years to come.

The new Island Park Beach House is 90 percent complete, and 80 percent of the funds have been raised to cover its cost, city officials and supporters say.

Now, boosters want to make a final push to complete that fundraising, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1eJaPCE ) reported.

Most recently, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa granted the project $15,000, said foundation executive director Kaye Englin and Cedar Falls businessman Dave Krejchi, involved with beach house fundraising.

Boosters are within about $130,000 of completing fundraising for the $650,000 reconstruction, said Krejchi and Mark Ripplinger, director of municipal operations and programs with the city of Cedar Falls.

The old beach house, home to many community and family milestone events since the early 1920s, was heavily damaged in the flood of 2008 and had to be demolished. Plans to rebuild the structure solidified over the past 18 months as all the necessary regulatory approvals were obtained.

“It’s an icon in the community,” Krejchi said. “Myself and a bunch of other people have really pushed to get it rebuilt. It’s finally happening. It’s looking great.”

He’s a former commodore of the North Shore Boat Club, a longtime beach house user.

Prior to the flood, the facility for decades hosted the annual Firemen’s Ball in conjunction with the city’s Sturgis Falls Celebration. Krejchi said people who attend the 40th annual celebration will notice progress on the building. Dan Levi is the project architect, and Cardinal Construction Co. of Waterloo is the general contractor.

It’s possible the facility could be complete by fall, and it should be ready to be rented out in 2016 if not sooner, Ripplinger said.

“It’s been an uphill battle,” he said. “A lot of it had to do with making sure we had the right building built back in that location. It required a number of approvals. When it’s done, there’s going to be a lot of happy people.”

He noted people regularly inquire about the building’s construction progress and whether the city is taking reservations yet. It’s possible the facility may be available for some events this fall. “We will certainly let the public know” when it’s ready for occupancy, Ripplinger said.

The project is being funded by $254,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds through the city. It also received $150,000 from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, the nonprofit entity that allocates a portion of Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo profits for community projects.

About $120,000 in private funds have been raised by Krejchi and others through activities such as the sale of commemorative bricks to be located at the beach house entrance facing its Island Park parking lot. That total includes the Community Foundation grant.

“We are thrilled to support the efforts to rebuild the Beach House,” Englin said. “Our committee was pleased to see so much collaboration and philanthropic partnerships embedded in this project so far.”

“We had to make sure we were able to complete the structure without any outside bonding or tax dollars, on the request of the City Council,” Ripplinger said.

He said once it’s officially open for occupancy, the city will rent the facility for $200 a day Fridays through Sundays and holidays, and $125 Mondays through Thursdays, generally from May through October.

Asked if the facility could generate revenue for the city, Ripplinger said, “Certainly, if we achieve the rentals we had in the past, it will offset some of the costs” of operation.

Krejchi hopes the Community Foundation grant will provide momentum toward completing fundraising for the facility. Donations may be made, and project and brick sale information obtained, online at www.islandparkbeachhouse.org

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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