BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With Fareway Grocery set to open this summer, the grocery chain is already stepping in with support for the community, including now donating dirt needed to resurface a future Fort Madison park.
Andy Andrews, of the North Lee County Historical Society, said Fareway, at the request of City Councilor and son Rusty Andrews, brought the rich soil to the park in the past few weeks.
Andrews said the park, located just east of Dollar General between 4th and 5th Street and Avenues G and H, has enough soil now to cover the property.
“The next step is to let her dry out and level it off. Two options – to do it right away and pay someone or we can wait a little bit. With all the rain we’ve had it won’t hurt to wait a little bit.”
Andrews said the park also received some dirt from Boulders Inn & Suites’ construction project off their expansion.
“We’ll spread that first because it has a lot of sand in it.” Andrews said.
He said he had to call Fareway off on any more dirt due to the volume they were seeing, but he said there are places it can be used if there is too much.
“If there is some leftover, and I’m assuming there’ll be some, we might be able to use it where the city tore down the old funeral home next to Casey’s. We can put some there to help level that off. Hopefully, we could build a berm west of the depot fence so when the creek goes out of its bank, it won’t flood the depot parking lot.”
But it will probably be two to three weeks before any progress is made on the Battlefield. Of course that’s all up to the weather,” he said.
The project will ultimately cost close to $500,000 when all is said and done.
The plan is to finish the park by the fall. Raising money for walkways, benches, a flag pole, and lighting will begin in 2018. Then in 2019, adding interpretive signage to tell the history of the Fort, the battlefield, and soldiers that gave their lives and were buried around the Fort grounds.
There is a tentative plan to move the 1909 reproduction chimney to the site and in 2020 possibly build an Interpretive Center and theatre on the grounds. Andrews said the monument may need some repair as there is a 12-foot crack in the back side of the stone.
Landscaping plans include 22 native trees to honor the 22 soldiers said to have lost their life in the battle, perennial beds with 22 perennials in each bed, a native American memorial area, several benches, and a sitting area with a possible welcome center/interpretive center.
The NLCHS is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization and anyone wishing to donate to the project can send donations to P.O. Box 285, Fort Madison, Iowa 52627 or contact the North Lee County Historical Society at 814 10th Street, 319-372-7661.