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Charles City Named 2nd Iowa 'Livable Community'

Charles City, Iowa's second livable community as defined by AARP, is home to a vintage movie house with nightly film screenings.(
Charles City, Iowa's second livable community as defined by AARP, is home to a vintage movie house with nightly film screenings.(
June 20, 2019

CHARLES CITY, Iowa – Charles City is working to become a "livable community" – a place where extra attention is paid to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults.

Progress on that front will be showcased this Saturday when AARP Iowa hosts a jamboree there to celebrate Charles City as Iowa's next livable community.

Mayor Dean Andrews says Charles City took a bold step to transform the heart of downtown when it opened the state's first whitewater park in 2011.

"We have the first whitewater kayak course in the state,” he states. “As it's turned out, it's been a really great opportunity as far as the fishing is actually better than it was before. People just go down and walk along the river, sit along the river, and have lunch along the river."

Charles City is located on the Cedar River and has about 8,000 residents. The jamboree will be held in conjunction with the annual Charles City Challenge Whitewater Festival.

After Des Moines was designated Iowa's first livable community in 2012, AARP state director Brad Anderson says leaders in Charles City wanted to know how their community could be more age-friendly.

"They reached out to us and they said, 'We understand that half of every dollar that is spent is spent by someone over the age of 50, so how do we attract more folks who are over 50 to our community?'" Anderson relates.

Mark Wicks, the community development director for Charles City, says he wants all age groups to feel welcome there.

"Charles City is a very progressive community, but you look at benefits of a livable community, including being able to safely go for walks, safely cross the streets, ride your bike downtown, get around without a car – spending time outdoors and socializing in public places – a chance to make where you live a life-long call," he states.

The Riverfront Park in Charles City will be the site of many weekend events where a stone amphitheater, naturalized play area, picnic shelters and public art have been constructed to make the community more livable.

Disclosure: AARP Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA