Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 2 Thanks to Jerry Lange!

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When those of us who either live in or are from Muscatine think about the holiday season, our minds may start flooding with memories of attending the annual Holiday Stroll and going for car rides on cool winter nights to catch glimpses of beautiful light displays.

Of the many areas of the city to see light displays, for nearly 50 years, Jerry Lange’s home on Mulberry Ave. was the highlight. Until five years ago, Lange’s home would host a large display of lights and decorations for neighbors and passersby to enjoy each holiday season.

When he moved outside city limits five years ago, Lange still managed to use some of the decorations at his new home, but he missed the opportunity to provide the community with his yearly display.

To still provide holiday cheer for the city, Lange decided to purchase and donate an 18′ Christmas tree to be put on display at the Muscatine riverfront across from Mississippi Mist. The tree is animated with synchronized LED lights that go along with music. The lights go though color sequences with various patterns.

He also donated two candle wreaths that will be placed near the tree. Last year, Lange very generously donated banners and lighted garland that were placed at the Sycamore and Chestnut intersections of 2nd St.

Lange said his gesture of donating decorations was done out of appreciation for the many volunteers and community members who helped with his annual display on Mulberry. He enjoyed putting up holiday decorations each year and wanted to keep up the tradition of sharing that joy with the Muscatine community.

“It’s a way of sharing with the community my enjoyment, and I hope that it will become their enjoyment as well,” Lange said.

With hopes that the tree will become a riverfront focal point this holiday season, Lange said he’d like to see the display at Riverside Park grow each year, much like has been done in Keokuk.

The entire Muscatine community is invited to attend the ceremony for the first lighting of the Muscatine Community Christmas Tree on the night of the Holiday Stroll, Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. The tree will be located on top of the pump house building across from Mississippi Mist in Riverside Park. 

Thank you to those who are making the tree lighting possible: Muscatine Power & Water, Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, City of Muscatine Public Works and Parks and Recreation Staff, and of course, Jerry Lange!

We hope you join us for this new addition to the evening of the Holiday Stroll!


Also on Friday night will be the Candy Cane Hunt at 6 p.m. at Pearl City Station. Please see this link for more information.

The annual Holiday Stroll will take place from 5-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2.

 

How Has Blue Zones Project® Changed Muscatine?

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Just over three years ago, residents of Muscatine gathered at Muscatine High School for a big kickoff celebration to mark the start of a community-wide initiative toward better health. Blue Zones Project® began to take our city by storm as we worked together toward well-being.

It has been amazing to see the transformation of our community. Since launching Blue Zones Project, we’ve seen a 17.5% increase in exercise levels, while stress levels have dropped by 13.6%!

In this post, we would like to give you a snapshot of some of the successes of the project and encourage you to read the full guide detailing the story of Muscatine Blue Zones Project and what it means for the future of our community.

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By the Numbers:

23,968 Lives impacted

40% People engaged

8,501 Individuals pledged to support well-being

23,595 Well-being actions taken by individuals

41% Believe Blue Zones Project has made a positive impact on the community

78 Organizations implementing well-being principles

1,149 Changes made by organizations to support living longer, better

36 Organizations completing the pledge

22 Muscatine worksites are Blue Zones Worksites®

45% Of Muscatine’s locally owned restaurants are Blue Zones Restaurants®

36% Of Muscatine’s public schools are Blue Zones Schools®

40% Of Muscatine’s grocery stores are Blue Zones Grocery Stores®

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We hope you check out the full story of Muscatine’s transformation: The Story of Muscatine

Thank you to everyone who has supported this initiative! The community-wide effort could not have been achieved without the support of our community leaders, local business and industry, Muscatine Blue Zones Project team, and of course, our incredible community volunteers!

What’s Next for the Muscatine Riverfront?

What do you think of when you think of Muscatine? For many citizens and visitors alike, the riverfront is at the forefront of their minds when thinking about our city. In fact, when we invite visitors to town, it seems like the riverfront is always on the list of places to show them. Even China’s President Xi Jin Ping speaks fondly of Muscatine and the Mississippi River!

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As we move into the future, how do you envision the riverfront? What ideas do you have for new features at Riverside Park? What would make the Muscatine Riverfront an even better place for recreation?

The City of Muscatine would love to have you share your ideas and input at the public engagement meeting for the Riverfront Master Plan!

Riverfront Master Plan Public Meeting

Wednesday, November 16 at 5:30 p.m.

Riverview Center – 110 Harbor Drive

This meeting will serve to kick off the planning process for the future of Riverside Park.

Ed Freer of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. will be in Muscatine to help guide our community through the process of strategic planning for the Riverfront Master Plan. The timing for this meeting is ideal as it will dovetail the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project plans. All are invited to come together once again to express your ideas and opinions about the future of one of our key attractions: the Muscatine Riverfront.

We invite you to attend the meeting to learn more about potential enhancements to the riverfront and share your ideas as we create a unified vision for the Muscatine Riverfront!

Upcoming Special Events with Muscatine Parks and Recreation

Each year, the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department offers several events for people of all ages to enjoy! The following are the upcoming special events through the rest of the year. We hope you, your friends and your family will be able to take part in these events!

If you are interested in volunteering at any of the special events, please contact Karen at Muscatine Parks and Recreation at 563-263-0241. These events would be a great place for community groups to volunteer as well!

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Fall Festival

The Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Muscatine Mall Center Court. There will be several activities including coloring, cookie decorating, and more. Children are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. This is a FREE event!


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Turkey Trot

The 2016 Muscatine “Turkey Trot” Fun Run/Walk will be held Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Muscatine Municipal Golf Course. The event will be hosted by the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department and the Muscatine Running Club. The race will follow a “Predict Your Time” format.  No participant will be allowed to use any kind of a timing device.

The winner of each age division for male and female participants who most closely predict their time will be awarded a frozen turkey. Only one (1) turkey can be won per family.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016

Time:

  • 1 mile run for 14 years and younger, 10 a.m.
  • 3 mile run, 10:30 a.m.

Fee: $15 through Nov. 1 or $20 from Nov. 2 through race time

Divisions: Male and Female: 11 & under, 12-14, 15-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-59, 60 & older

Registration: Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department, 215 Sycamore Street, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or on the day of the race at Muscatine Municipal Golf Course from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Here is the printable registration form.


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Candy Cane Hunt

The Candy Cane Hunt is held each year on the night of the Holiday Stroll (Friday, Dec. 2) at 6 p.m. It will be held on Muscatine Riverfront, right by Pearl City Station. This is a FREE event!

There will be areas set up in the green space near the basketball courts for two age groups: Pre-K – 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade – 4th Grade. There will be lots of candy canes to be found by all participants. There will be several “special” candy canes that can be redeemed at Pearl City Station for a special toy. Cookies and drinks will be available at Pearl City Station after the hunt. The Candy Cane Hunt will be held in the dark, so bring a flashlight if you can! LED flashlights will be available from our sponsors if you do not have one to bring.


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Elves Workshop

This year’s Elves Workshop will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Muscatine Mall Center Court. This is a FREE event!

Santa and his elves are taking a break from building toys, and now it’s your turn! Children will have the opportunity to work in Santa’s workshop, decorating crafts to take home, as well as talk to Saint Nick himself.


We hope you take advantage of these upcoming events! If you have any questions, please contact Muscatine Parks and Recreation at 563-263-0241.

City’s New Commercial Tax Abatement Program

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Urban revitalization or tax abatement is a tool to encourage economic development by providing incentives for new construction or for the expansion of existing facilities. An Urban Revitalization Area may include the entire city or designated areas of the city. Essentially, tax abatement is the temporary reduction of property taxes on the improvements made to an existing property. The owner would still have to pay the amount owed for taxes pre-improvement, but may qualify for decreased taxes on the improvements.

Qualified improvements may include new construction, remodeling, rehabilitation and additions to the existing property.

Tax abatement is great tool for Muscatine because it works to help businesses thrive! It cuts down barriers to entry or expansion for business owners as they either start or grow their business. In addition to commercial tax abatement, the City has industrial and housing incentives as well (see below). The City of Muscatine has several economic development initiatives designed to encourage development or redevelopment within Muscatine. Check out our economic development programs on our website.

So, what should you know about the new Commercial Tax Abatement Program?

The City has a new commercial tax abatement program in two key areas – one along Grandview Avenue and a second along Park Avenue. To quality for tax abatement, the improvement must increase the assessed valuation of the property by at least 15% of the valuation before the improvement.

You can see the maps for each of these areas here:

Grandview Avenue

Park Avenue

Commercial Tax Abatement Schedules on Qualifying Property:

10 Year Declining Schedule

  • Year 1 – 80% abated
  • Year 2 – 70% abated
  • Year 3 – 60% abated
  • Year 4 – 50% abated
  • Year 5 & 6 – 40% abated
  • Year 7 & 8 – 30% abated
  • Year 9 & 10 – 20% abated

3 Year 100% Schedule

  • Year 1 – 100% abated
  • Year 2 – 100% abated
  • Year 3  – 100% abated

The City of Muscatine also has two other tax abatement programs in place:

Industrial Property Tax Abatement on industrial real estate (Iowa Code 427B)

  • Year 1 – 75% abated
  • Year 2 – 60% abated
  • Year 3 – 45% abated
  • Year 4 – 30% abated
  • Year 5 – 15% abated

Housing Tax Abatement

  • New Construction: Minimum assessed value of $175,000, Exemption is on first $75,000 of actual value added, 100% for 5 years
  • Blighted District: 
    • New homes: Minimum assessed value of $175,000, 5 years, 100%
    • Improvements/Additions: 3 years, 100%
  • Historic District:
    • Historically Sensitive: 5 years, 100%
    • Historic Area: 3 years, 100%

For more information about the City’s tax abatement programs, please visit our website.

Mississippi Drive To Be Considered by City Council On Sept. 1

Mississippi Drive

Bolton & Menk, Inc., the engineering firm tasked with developing plans for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project, will be back to present to the the City Council at their next meeting on Sept. 1.

The City Council Meeting will take place on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 215 Sycamore Street. 

The meeting will include discussion about the Carver Corner intersection and the intersection of Mulberry Avenue and 2nd Street. Bolton & Menk will present the updated design options to the Council before Council ultimately makes decisions about the best course of action.

Design options include traditional intersections as well as newer considerations, such as a roundabout or what is known as a sweep. All options will be brought before Council, where they will choose the designs for the two intersections.

The roundabout options that will be presented include roundabouts that are significantly larger than the existing roundabout we have on Cedar Street.

Here are the diameters of the current roundabout compared to the roundabout options that will be presented at the Sept. 1 City Council Meeting:

Existing Roundabout on Cedar Street:                   120’ Diameter

Roundabout Option at Carver Corner:                  140’ Diameter

Roundabout Option at 2nd and Mulberry:            132’ Diameter

The below image is the Cedar Street Roundabout overlaid on the roundabout concepts at the two intersections.

Roundabout Diameters

If you’re interested in learning more, here are the Mississippi Drive presentations that were given to the City Council in July and August of this year:

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2016-08-18 Mississippi Drive

These presentations, along with the project website, include information about potential design plans.

It seems only fitting that Bolton & Menk will be back on Sept. 1 as exactly one year ago on Sept. 1, 2015, the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project had its kick-off! Since then, input from  citizens at public engagement events and stakeholder meetings and through online comments on the project website have driven the process. From the beginning, the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project has been a way for citizens to come together to create a shared vision for Mississippi Drive. It’s excited to see how this project is shaping the future of Muscatine!

Thank you for your interest and engagement! We value your input.

 

6 Ways to Stay Connected with the City of Muscatine

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With school starting today in Muscatine, schedules are getting busier. It’s finally time to admit that summertime is coming to a close. It was enjoyable to see the way our community embraced the summer. From seeing our parks and trails system utilized to observing the way Muscatine came together to welcome RAGBRAI to our town, citizens of Muscatine were active and engaged! We even gained a new downtown street fest called Muscatine Second Saturday, which takes place the second Saturday of every month from June to October from 5-8 p.m.

Having full schedules means it may be difficult to stay up-to-date on relevant information. That’s where the City of Muscatine’s communications efforts come in. Our goal is to keep you informed about what your city government is doing and create opportunities for open communication with you. We want to share how we are working to make Muscatine better while also hearing from you about how we can best move us into the future.

  1. Like the City of Muscatine Facebook Page – Facebook is by far the place we tend to see the greatest level of engagement with citizens. We post regularly about anything from construction projects to the services we offer to job opportunities. Staying connected with us on Facebook is a wonderful way to keep informed.
  2. Follow us on Twitter – Like on Facebook, Twitter is a place for us to share timely information about what’s happening in the City.
  3. Sign up for Notify Me –  Our website has a great feature called Notify Me that allows you to receive text or email notifications about areas that interest you. Take a look at the and sign up for notifications. You can get notifications about anything from City Council Agendas to Kent-Stein Field Conditions to Declared Snow Emergency information.
  4. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter – We send out a monthly newsletter via MailChimp that gives an overview of news from each of the City’s departments. The newsletters are a great way for you to read and stay informed in one place. It’s delivered right to your email inbox so you don’t have to search for information.
  5. Attend a City Council Meeting – The City Council meets the first, second and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at City Hall in the Council Chambers.  Meetings are televised on Channel 2, the Government Access Channel. We also have a YouTube Channel where videos of the meetings are shared.
  6. Of course, we can’t wrap up this blog post without pointing out that another way to stay connected with the City of Muscatine is by following this blog! You can do so by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen. Enter your email address to receive blog posts directly in your inbox.

We hope that by utilizing some of these 6 ways to connect with the City that you will be able to stay informed and engaged as we work together to enable Muscatine to thrive!

Back-in Angled Parking is Being Demonstrated in Muscatine – Here’s Your Guide!

Here’s your guide to back-in angled parking that is now in Muscatine! Linn Street, between Mississippi Drive and Alley #1, was recently striped and prepared to accommodate back-in angled parking. This is a demonstration project in order to allow community members to experience back-in angled parking.

Linn Street Back-in Parking

Back-in angled parking is being considered for incorporation into the design for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project because it will increase safety and allow for a greater number of on-street parking spaces to be added to Mississippi Drive. This type of parking is also safer and more convenient for loading and unloading vehicles, especially when children are present.  Additionally, it allows you to see better as you are pulling out of the stall. At the 2nd Mississippi Drive Corridor Project public meeting, 67% of attendees voted that they were open to this concept.

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Because it is a new concept to Muscatine, a demonstration of back-in angled parking has been set up on Linn Street. This will allow community members to experience back-in angled parking and offer feedback prior to the final decision of whether to incorporate such parking into the redesign of Mississippi Drive.

Back-In Parking

So, how do you do it? 

Cars parking on Linn street will be utilizing back-in parking on both sides of the street. Whether you are entering the area from Mississippi Drive or from Alley #1, you are able to pull forward and past your desired stall, use your right turn signal, stop, and then back into the stall. Back-in parking is one step easier than parallel parking.

The following YouTube video demonstrates how back-in parking is being used in the City of Austin. This is just one example of the effectiveness of back-in parking as it is being used in cities all across the United States.

Shelter Rentals with Muscatine Parks and Recreation

The Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department takes pride in maintaining clean, quality facilities for use by citizens and visitors.

Rose Garden Shelter

There are 14 shelters within the City of Muscatine’s park system and on average the Parks and Recreation Department sees 400 rentals per year. Advance shelter reservations may be made one day less than a year prior to the desired date.

Each shelter contains approximately 6 picnic tables. The rental period is the full day during park hours (5 a.m. to 11 p.m.) for a fee of $30 for residents and $40 for non-residents. Extra tables may be reserved for a $15 fee for 3 tables. To make a reservation you may do so in person at the Parks and Recreation office at City Hall or by phone with a credit card payment at 563-263-0241.

Eversmeyer Park Shelter

On the day of a reservation at a shelter, Parks and Recreation staff will post the notice of reservation on the shelter and clean it between the hours of 6-8 a.m. The shelter is prepared for use on the morning of the same day of the reservation.

Your satisfaction is our highest priority, but please keep in mind that once our staff members have prepared the site, some situations are out of our control.

Guidelines for Usage Success

  1. Parks open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 p.m.
  2. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the parks.
  3. Fire is only allowed in grills.
  4. Dogs must be on a leash of no more than 6′ in length.
  5. Motor vehicles are allowed only on roads and parking areas.
  6. Your receipt is your permit. Please have your receipt available throughout the duration of your event.
  7. If you see anything in a park or facility which is in disrepair, or if you witness vandalism at any time, please notify the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department at 563-263-0241 within business hours. If it is outside of business hours, you may contact dispatch at the Muscatine Police Department at 563-263-9922.

We hope you enjoy your experience utilizing your park system and take the opportunity to rent a shelter for your next outing!

For more information about the shelters available for rent, see our Facilities Listing.

City Council Approves Pilot Sidewalk Poetry Program

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Beginning this year, your walk around Muscatine could be inspired by more than just green grass and trees. On Thursday, the Muscatine City Council approved a Pilot Sidewalk Poetry Program. Community Development Director Dave Gobin gave a presentation to request the approval of the Muscatine County Arts Council’s pilot program to install stamped poetry in new or replacement sidewalks. The program will be done under the direction of the Public Works Department as part of the annual sidewalk construction projects throughout the community.

In April, the Muscatine County Arts Council held a poetry contest, with over 40 applicants participating. All poems were judged by Iowa Poet Laureate, Mary Swander. Five winning poets were chose to have their poems embossed into stamps that will be placed into wet concrete as Public Works replaces or repairs sidewalks. The intent is to have one or two poems stamped per block. Residents will have the choice as to whether they would like poetry stamped onto concrete in front of their home if the sidewalk is being replaced or repaired.

There is no cost to the City for the poetry stamps as they were donated by the Muscatine County Arts Council after receiving a grant from the Community Foundation.

Gobin introduced the project to the City Council because he believes it’s a step in the right direction to encourage arts and tourism.

“It’s a low or no cost way to attract visitors from outside of town,” Gobin said. “With our best foot forward, the City can leave a lasting impression.”

To see example photos of sidewalks with poetry stamped into them, visit the Public Art Saint Paul website.

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