SIOUX CITY | This spring, a three-acre tract of land near the city's wastewater treatment plant could be the new prime hangout spot for local butterflies and bumblebees.
The attraction will also be a buzz-worthy part of a new park built at the site of a former lagoon on the city's south side.
The city has been planting a variety of prairie grass and wildflower blends at "Prairie Park," the 58-acre area just off Lewis Boulevard directly south of the wastewater treatment plant, in preparation for a public unveiling in the spring.
The Sioux City Council will vote Monday whether to approve agreements with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund the purchase of pollinator mix for a three-acre portion of the park.
The two agreements will combine to cover the full $720 estimated cost for the native grassland seeding. Sioux City will then cover the labor and equipment to complete the project. The new vegetation will provide nectar and shelter to attract monarch butterflies, other pollinating insects and migratory grassland birds.
Parks maintenance supervisor Kelly Bach said the park is meant to be a learning area, featuring a green-roofed shelter, picnic tables and informational kiosks.
“There’s a wood chip walking trail, and you can get a good workout on that," he said. "You’ll see different species of bids, and there’s always deer and turkeys."
City Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore said the project grew from a City Council emphasis to create and preserve area prairies. He said the city researched ways to find cost assistance and met with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to discuss the program.
He said this will be unique to other localized prairie spots in the city.
"We already have some smaller prairie areas out there, but not one specific to monarchs," Salvatore said.
Salvatore said this could be the first of many such projects.
"We're looking to do several more in the future," he said. "Some of the other places that we're looking at establishing prairies will be to reduce the amount of mowing."
The topsoil at the park being used as the seedbed came out the dredging the city did at the Sertoma Park pond to prepare for Cone Park, he said. Pending council approval, the city will plant the seeds this fall. Salvatore said he expects the grass will begin to pop up in the spring.
In other action Monday, the council will vote whether to authorize a $33,301 settlement of a property damage claim related to the formation of a sinkhole at 3015 Pierce St.
City documents say on Aug. 26, heavy rainfall caused large amounts of runoff in front of the residence. It then caused a large sinkhole to develop, which followed a utility line to the foundation of the residence.
This residence, owned by Marlus Mammen, sits directly north of the property purchased by the city last month as part of a settlement with Joyce Downing, who had sued the city in 2014 after multiple sinkholes formed in her yard. That settlement cost the city $195,000.
The city has been repairing a large sinkhole at the intersection of 30th and Pierce streets caused by a failed storm sewer.