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Nature center project advanced

New facility to be along river in downtown Fort Dodge

The development of a new nature center along the Des Moines River in downtown Fort Dodge was advanced Tuesday by the Webster County Board of Supervisors.

The board approved two contracts for design of the center, which will be located in a planned park between the river and North First Street.

ISG, of Des Moines, was hired to prepare the Phase 2 designs and construction documents at a cost of $355,000.

Taylor Studios Inc., of Rantoul, Illinois, was hired to to prepare the plans for exhibits to be housed in the center. The company will be paid $350,000.

That contract consists of two parts. The company will be paid $106,000 to design the exhibit plan. Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove said that will include considerations like lighting and windows.

The company will also be paid $244,000 to produce the exhibits, which will be about nature and wildlife.

Both contracts were awarded on unanimous votes.

The center will be a 15,000 square foot building featuring exhibit space, classrooms, a kitchen and offices.

It is estimated to cost $5.5 million.

When plans for it were revealed in March, Cosgrove described the center as ”the hub of conservation and recreation in Webster County.”

”We will bring you inside to get you back outside,” he said then.

Soil testing at the site of the planned center is expected to be done next month. Fill and concrete in the area is to be removed in September.

Cosgrove said bids for construction of the center will be sought early next year.

The nature center is part of a planned package of outdoor recreation and quality of life projects proposed by Fort Dodge and Webster County leaders.

The projects include:

• Building handicapped accessible fishing jetties on both sides of the Des Moines River where the little dam once stood.

• Creation of a riverfront park on vacant land at the west end of Central Avenue.

• Rebuilding a section of First Street next to the park.

• Completing a trail loop around Badger Lake at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

• Connecting the Fort Dodge Nature trail to Harland and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.

• Building a trail connecting Fort Dodge to Badger.

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