Letter to the Editor

A big thank you

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This past week many area residents were intrigued and some were inconvenienced when the big red horse barn was moved from West 18th Street around the beltway of Spencer to Oneota Park. The Clay County Conservation Board took advantage of a unique opportunity to relocate the iconic building. The next step will be to convert it through adaptive reuse into an area Environmental Education Center and headquarters for the CCCB.

The building was donated by Northwest Bank and with the support of the County Board of Supervisors, the CCCB used its capital improvements fund to pay for the move and for placing the building on footings at its new location in Oneota Park. The move had to occur within a tight timeframe. Although the cold April weather was a curse for some, it was a blessing for us with frozen ground on the final mile cross country from the east beltway park entrance to the new building site.

An amazing list of people and organizations were involved in the successful completion of this first phase effort to relocate the barn. The CCCB would like to specifically extend a big thank you to the following:

Clay County Board of Supervisors, Northwest Bank, City of Spencer, Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Spencer Police Department, Spencer Fire Department, Clay County Engineers Office & Secondary Roads, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Lakes Electrical Co-op, Canadian Pacific Railroad, Spencer Municipal Utilities, Corn Belt Power Co-op and Mediacom.

Phase Two of the project will now begin. The interior finish of the building will need to be designed with a good educational experience in mind for kids from 3 years old to those who are 83. The outdoor space in the park will be very important to the learning experience of all and to the public’s enjoyment of the out of doors. Landscape design of the building campus setting and park trail system will also occur over time. With the woodlot and the prairie and the wetlands and the flood plain and the Little Sioux River, Oneota Park has lots to offer without far to go!

Phase Two will take time, effort and funding. We will welcome public input and any and all contributions to this effort. The Oneota Conservation Foundation will be a key partner. The Foundation Board includes three teachers and two naturalists who have good ideas and a passion for top notch learning opportunities. Watch for more information as we move forward and please join us in this endeavor.

Will Horsley, Executive Director

Lee Schoenewe, Chair

Clay County Conservation Board