Landscape architect Jennifer Cross discusses the possible “nature play” area at a planned trestle-themed park in Manning during a Community Visioning meeting Tuesday.
Landscape architect Jennifer Cross discusses the possible “nature play” area at a planned trestle-themed park in Manning during a Community Visioning meeting Tuesday.

June 30, 2016

MANNING

The vision for Manning’s “Trestle Park” is a bit more concrete after a design and planning meeting earlier this week.

The city is working with the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program — for the second time — to develop ideas for several projects in Manning, including the adult-geared park the city has been discussing for several years. Landscape architects, a representative from Trees Forever and city officials and residents met Tuesday to hammer out ideas.

Manning is one of the few cities in Iowa that have gone through the Community Visioning program twice, and the only one to finish the first round of projects as quickly as Manning did and come back for a second go, said Brad Riphagen, field coordinator with Trees Forever. He has been involved with the Community Visioning program since it started 20 years ago.

The Iowa Department of Transportation partners with Iowa State University Extension Landscape Architecture and Trees Forever to offer the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation, according to a news release. The program is offered to cities with a population of less than 10,000.

Cities accepted into Community Visioning’s program are required to earmark $2,000 that will remain in the city and be used for one of the proposed projects. Trees Forever, landscape architects and other agencies then work with the city to develop and incorporate beautification, design and transportation improvement ideas.

Manning first went through the program in 2012. Ideas proposed at the time included enhancing the area’s trail system and adding amenities along the trails, developing signage and logos for the cities, enhancing Main Street with street trees, bike racks and flower baskets and incorporating landscaping themes and planting native species along Highway 141.

Once Manning exhausted those ideas, incorporating many of them, the city returned to Community Visioning with a new slate of proposals and was accepted to once again undergo the planning and design program.

During a day-long visit to Manning Tuesday, representatives from RDG Planning & Design’s Omaha office toured various parts of Manning and then spent several hours working with residents to swap ideas and put together initial designs, maps and outlines addressing several future projects in Manning.

Jen Cross, a landscape architect with RDG Planning & Design, presented those proposals Tuesday evening, offering a first-draft look at what some of these projects could look like in Manning. Cross started out with the Community Visioning program about a decade ago as an intern — a process that allowed her to “learn by fire,” she joked — and now is a landscape architect working with some of the participating communities.

The big-ticket item was Trestle Park, a railroad-themed park planned for the north side of Manning that would cater to adults — with volleyball courts, areas to play horseshoes and bags, trail access, outdoor exercise equipment and more.

It could also include a “natural play” area for the kids that would be accompanying many of the adult park visitors. Kiosks would include railroad information and history, and a shelterhouse and restrooms also would be available. A small structure for children’s play could include the “character of a caboose,” Cross said. A children’s challenge course also is a possibility.

“Trestle Park is a piece that has been in the vision of Manning for some time,” she said.

The presentation also included additional ideas for Main Street, including a potential “downtown green space” and “parklet” installations in free spaces on the street that could be removed and stored during the winter to allow for uninterrupted snow removal.

“This is something that’s very hot right now, and something that was feasible for you to participate in,” Cross said.

Cross also discussed incorporating the green spaces and signage to draw more attention to the juncture of Highway 141 and Main Street.

“The big part of doing something at Highway 141 was to draw people’s attention to that corner — to say, ‘You’re at Main Street. You’re downtown. You’re at the heart of Manning,’” she said.

Placing a sign to better identify the entrance of the Great Western Park was a separate proposal.

“It’s a simple piece, but it’s something that would help with that branding and that identity,” Cross said.

Tuesday’s ideas were fresh and worked up that day.

“Today we were drawing 100 miles a minute,” Cross said with a laugh.

In several weeks, she will present refined ideas to the city, and there will be a final presentation at the end of July, after which

Manning will move forward with the projects that can be addressed now.

What cities do with the ideas developed through the Community Visioning program is up to them — it depends on their initiative and funding, Riphagen said.

“Whether the projects get going is a matter of finding dollars,” he said. “Manning has been very successful at finding the dollars.”