WATERLOO, Iowa --- Long-delayed plans for a Lou Henry Hoover memorial project are back on track.
Bids were approved this week to begin construction on the downtown sculpture garden honoring the former first lady and Waterloo native.
"Our time line is to have the art in place to dedicate it for My Waterloo Days early next summer," said Kent Shankle, curator and assistant director of the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
Peterson Contractors Inc. of Reinbeck was the lowest bidder at $91,000 to construct concrete and brick sidewalks around and through trees on the park site. The sculpture garden will be from West Fourth Street to Park Avenue between southbound Washington Street and the parking lots under U.S. Highway 218.
Work should begin soon, pending City Council approval of the final contracts, bonds and certificates, said Associate City Engineer Jeff Bales. "I would guess either late August or Labor Day."
A second contract will cover the artwork to be located along the sidewalks. Timothy S. Hooton, an artist from Albuquerque, N.M., has been selected to develop those pieces under a $75,000 budget.
Shankle said the project will include a new bronze statue of a mature Lou Henry Hoover to be located on the corner of Park and Washington.
"It will be a very good likeness, slightly larger than life in size," he said.
Three 7-foot-tall, three-sided limestone pillars, or kiosks, would be located along the sidewalks and would have bronze plaques with information about Hoover, who was born in Waterloo in 1874 and later became the wife of the country's 31st president, West Branch native Herbert Hoover.
An existing statue on the corner of West Fourth and Washington, the former site of Hoover's home, would be relocated within the park.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has allocated $145,000 in federal transportation enhancement funds for the project, with a match of $53,000 from a variety of sources, including the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and hotel-motel tax revenue.
Members of the Church Row Neighborhood Association got the project off the ground. Federal funds were initially awarded in 2005, but the project has been delayed numerous times.