Cargill proposing new rail-yard, neighbors nearby have plan of their own

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — Cargill has plans to build a new railyard in Cedar Rapids but where they want to build it is stirring up controversy.

Cargill has plans to build an 18-track storage railyard between Otis Road and the Prairie Park Fishery Nature Area.

Currently, Cargill uses Union Pacific’s railyard to house cars that aren’t in use and now they want to build one of their own to become more efficient.

A spokesman with Cargill, Dan Pulis, the Cedar Rapids corn milling facility manager said in a statement that the company considered five locations. The current proposed location is being met with opposition.

On average 25 cars load at the Cargill Corn Milling Facility every day. It makes for a lot of moving parts because their railyard is miles away. Now they want to change that.

However, the area they’re proposing, a privately owned cornfield between Otis Road and the Prairie Park Fishery, has got neighbors and nature lovers concerned.

“The air is totally crystal clean,” said Kerry Sanders who grew up and now lives in the area, “We sit above the only last unincumbered section of the river valley that is dedicated to public use that exists anywhere in Cedar Rapids and we’re talking about destroying that.”

Those concerned residents formed a group ‘Build Trails Not Rail‘, attracting 250 people at people meetings to write up and propose their own plans.

“We did drawings put it in front of consultant firms to show that it would physically work. We have collectively spent tens of thousands of hours trying to make this work,” said Sanders.

The group wants Cargill to consider what they refer to as an industrial wasteland, often referred to as the Sinclair Park area. This is the area on the southwest side of the Cargill Corn Milling Plant near the old meatpacking plant.

However, the property is city-owned. According to the city’s Communication Division Manager, Maria Johnson the site includes future plans for flood control measures, such as a water basin, pump station, and levee. The now green space is also being reserved for future Newbo Re-Development.

Cargill also had concerns about the site. In a statement, Pulis said, “For what we know is available for purchase today to expand beyond the Cargill-owned property, the layout, size, underground utilities, and topography for the neighbor’s proposed location (per the rending shared) would not accommodate our needs for this rail yard operation.”

However, Sanders said it’s a solution that’s can appease everyone involved. ‘Build Trails Not Rails’ hopes to reach a conclusion that would save the integrity of the natural landscape of the Otis Road and park area. They plan to hold an open house on July 22nd at the Indian Creek Nature Center from 6-8:30 p.m.

Cargill will hold it’s a third public meeting at the Indian Creek Nature Center from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Cargill will bring a proposal before the city’s planning commission committee on July 18th for consideration. The committee will then give a recommendation to the city council.

To learn more about Cargill’s plan, visit the FAQ website they created.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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