Morrison taking the initiative to promote parks

July 29, 2018

MORRISON – Going to college is no walk in the park – unless you’re part of a partnership working with Morrison officials to come up with ways to get the most out of the city’s green space.

Students and faculty at Augustana College in Rock Island will partner with the city as part of the college’s Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative, a program started in 2015 to, in the words of its website, “help build stronger local and regional economies, more vibrant and livable communities, healthier and happier individuals, and a healthier environment.”

“They’ll try to look at the park areas to better improve them, get more utilization out of them,” Mayor Everett Pannier said. “There’s different environmental studies and biology classes that will take a look at what we’ve got.”

College staff and faculty will conduct independent research and internships and other activities to help communities achieve their goals.

It’s not the first time the college has partnered with Morrison.

“They’ve been up here at least twice, working with us,” Pannier said.

Other partner cities this year are Geneseo and Rock Island, and Davenport, Iowa.

The cost to the city is minimal, with Morrison paying only about $2,000 to $3,000 to reimburse some of the college’s transportation costs.

Morrison’s park space has increased in recent months, making now a good time to get some outside help.

“We just added a few acres because we tore out the other wastewater treatment plant,” Pannier said.

Morrison’s old wastewater treatment plant in Waterworks Park on the city’s south side was removed earlier this year after the new plant went online in November.

With more than 80 acres of green space – an unusually high amount for a city the size of Morrison – there’s no shortage of city parks, but resources to promote them aren’t as plentiful.

While the city has a parks and recreation board, it functions only in an advisory capacity and there’s no park district to oversee the city’s green space. What’s more, there’s no separate park district tax levy, so the parks and rec areas are supported solely by the city’s general fund, making the price of the partnership even more appealing.

None of the work will affect the Morrison Sports Complex just east of the city. Pannier didn’t have specific dates on when the Augustana teams will visit. He expects reports on the team’s findings later this year.

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