$500,000 Grant Awarded to North Liberty’s Next Stage by the Washington County Riverboat Foundation

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to the Building North Liberty’s Next Stage capital campaign.

The award, through the City of North Liberty’s philanthropic partners for the campaign at the Community Foundation of Johnson County, will help the City’s decade-long plan to transform Centennial Park into a magnetic gathering place come to fruition, with phase one of the four-phase project on track to break ground in summer 2024.

“This shared enthusiasm and gift are important to building this community amenity and venue here in the heart of eastern Iowa.” said Mayor Chris Hoffman. “We’re grateful to the Foundation’s board of directors for recognizing the value of this project not just to North Liberty but to the entire region.”

The park development is a win for the region, with an estimated $11.6 million of economic activity expected each year to generated by the park, with these positive impacts rippling through businesses across the region. The development also spurs the potential for additional growth on the ample land surrounding the park and will help employers maintain and attract a strong workforce. Residents throughout the region will benefit from the enhanced quality of life, entertainment and accessibility the new amenities will bring.

The development includes the Centennial Center and connected amphitheater, which will be at the heart of the park and connect residents to one another and the arts. The multifaceted facility will welcome public events like craft fairs and author visits as well as private events such as business functions and weddings. Nonprofit organizations will benefit from a new event space with discounted or waived event fees to host community meals, annual fundraisers and volunteer appreciation events.

Outside at the amphitheater, a wide range of ticketed and free programs will be showcased seasonally on the stage including performances by touring artists, comedians, symphony orchestras, local dance studios and school district choir and band ensembles. The new performance venue will offer easy access to the arts for rural communities along Interstate 380.

Restrooms, an expansive plaza and necessary utilities are also included in phase one. Phase two, which includes a premier splash pad, wheelchair-accessible playground units and additional restrooms is expected by 2026. Phases three and four, which bring an open-air pavilion and honor garden to the park, will be completed as soon as funding allows.

In recognition of the Washington County Riverboat Foundation’s grant, the plaza adjacent to the center, with picnic tables, landscaping and seating, will be named the Washington County Riverboat Foundation Plaza.

The Foundation’s grant joins other substantial pledges from local organizations and individuals, which as of this release, totals over $1.1 million. The total project cost is estimated at $16.4 million, with the first phase being the largest at $8.8 million. The City has committed $6.5 million towards the improvements.

Although the four phases will stretch several years, the Next Stage capital campaign is now. Visit northlibertyiowa.org/give to learn more about the project and make a donation, eligible for tax deduction, to the Centennial Park Next Stage Fund at the Community Foundation of Johnson County. Total gifts of $500 or more will be recognized permanently at the park reflective of impact. Naming opportunities for areas throughout the park are also available. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

Left to right in photo: Angela Millard (City of North Liberty), Ryan Heiar (City of North Liberty), Mayor Chris Hoffman (City of North Liberty), Jillian Miller (City of North Liberty), Nick Bergus (City of North Liberty), Shelly Maharry (Community Foundation of Johnson County)

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