COUNCIL BLUFFS — The planned Beach Boys concert on May 25 to open River's Edge Park will be the culmination of a number of years of work, Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan said.
A Back to the River program was started by Council Bluffs and Omaha in 1997 to develop both sides of the Missouri River to attract people to the waterfront. Hanafan said River's Edge Park will do that on the Iowa side, and the Memorial Day weekend concert will officially open the park to the public.
“Our intent (with the concert) is to get people down there, to let them know that the park is done,” he said.
Council Bluffs Parks Director Larry Foster said construction of the park is nearly completed. When it is finished, the park will offer 85 acres for recreation, outdoor movies, hiking, biking and other uses. Foster said those uses will include youth sporting events, community festivals, fireworks and concerts.
The Beach Boys appearance, sponsored by American National Bank, will kick off three weeks of opening celebrations.
“The Iowa West Foundation will be our primary partner for the whole three weeks of entertainment,” Foster said. “Their funding has been a key to getting this whole thing done.”
Iowa West President and CEO Pete Tulipana said the foundation committed $5.45 million to Phase I of the park construction, which Foster said cost about $11 million.
“The park will be the jewel of the metro area for concerts and events,” Tulipana said. “I see it as the linchpin to growth in the area. It's very exciting.”
Following the Missouri River flood of 2011, Hanafan said, the city had to make some tough decisions on the park.
“A year ago we had a difficult decision to make; we just had 110 days of flooding, and the area where the concert is going to be was under water,” Hanafan said. “But we chose the area for a reason: It recovers quickly.”
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that links Council Bluffs and Omaha is a key component. Hanafan said thousands of people who cross the bridge on foot or bicycle will be able to enjoy the riverfront park.
Tulipana said Council Bluffs is the “closest suburb” to downtown Omaha, and both communities will reap the benefits of the new park.
“I see it as the beginning of a tremendous opportunity for economic development for our community,” he said.
Foster said having the concert christen the park makes it all the more special.
“Having the Beach Boys kick off the opening is the perfect band for the perfect park at the perfect time,” he said.