City officials are planning to enhance the area surrounding the Waterloo Boat House in Cedar River/Exchange Park.

The Leisure Services Commission has been awarded a $200,000 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant the will be combined with local funding sources to make nearly $500,000 in improvements to enhance the area around the Boat House.

The REAP grant money will be used to construct a scenic river overlook, patio, new pedestrian and parking lot lighting, bicycle racks, recreation trail connections between the boathouse and nearby parking, shelter, and restroom. Leisure Services Director Paul Huting said major improvements to Boat House parking will be made at the same time, using local funds.

According to Huting, additional funding is being sought for a final phase of improvements in the boat launch area, immediately downstream from the Boat House.

REAP invests in projects that enhance and protect Iowa’s natural and cultural resources. Fifteen-percent (15%) of REAP is set aside for grants to cities for projects that help establish natural areas, encourage outdoor recreation and resource management.

In its 27 years, REAP has benefited every county in Iowa by supporting over 15,000 projects. REAP has funded the projects with over $250 million in state investments, leveraging two to three times the amount in private, local and federal dollars. Collectively, the projects have improved the quality of life for all Iowans with better soil and water quality; added outdoor recreation opportunities; sustained economic development; enhanced knowledge and understanding of our ecological and environmental assets, and preservation of our cultural and historic treasures.

According to city officials, REAP has benefitted the Waterloo area greatly over the past 27 years. REAP grants have funded enhancements in the Riverview and Sherwood Park recreation areas, along with numerous recreational trails projects in the Cedar Valley.