Now that Bellevue's Haworth Park has been restored to its pre-flood glory, the city is turning its attention to the north.
The area once informally known as Kramer Park has a new name, a new catfish-filled lake and there's more coming.
The 100 acres just north of Haworth has been renamed American Heroes Park because of the 9/11 memorial housed there, and the city is slowly making other improvements to the riverfront park.
“People are drawn to the river,” said city spokesman Phil Davidson. “We want to make sure they have something to do.”
Just a decade ago, the site housed a Nebraska Public Power District plant.
After the plant was demolished in 2004, NPPD sold the land to the City of Bellevue and the cleanup began.
After a few years and a few million dollars of cleanup funded by the city and the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, the area was ready to be a park.
“It's no small task turning a power plant into a park,” said Bellevue Public Works Director Jeff Roberts.
The city razed all but one wall of the former power plant and conceived of an ambitious plan to bring dozens of new elements to the park.
Eventually, the park might hold an amphitheater, some kind of visitor's center or museum, a playground/splash pad combo and more. But the timing of those projects depends on when the money is available.
So far the city has installed football fields and a lake. There is also a nature trail through a forest on the north side with river views.
In the next two years, Bellevue plans to put in a fishing pier and a fountain, plus shift the entry road to curve toward the lake.
The NRD has spent $2 million on the park so far, and the city will have spent that much at the end of the latest phase of the project.
But the city, facing a $5 million budget hole this year, has put off some improvements.
The Bellevue Community Foundation will fill some funding gaps.
“When we saw this plan we were like, 'Wow,' ” said board vice president Kathy Sullivan. “It just lit us up.”
The organization already gave the city a $40,000 grant to upgrade its basic aeration system to include a lighted fountain.
Now it's hosting a Husker tailgate fundraiser — the first of many, Sullivan hopes — to help pay for other improvements to the park.
“It can be as big and beautiful as you want, but the costs go up,” Sullivan said.
Next on the agenda is a lakeside amphitheater and a walking trail around the lake.
Roberts said it would take about half a million dollars to get the park in good shape, or more than $2 million to put in everything on the city's wish list.
The property is part of a larger push toward economic development along Mission Street, known as Bellevue's Old Towne. The park is intended to draw people from out of town to the Olde Towne area, Davidson said.
Eventually, officials would like to see the area host concerts and other events.
“We want to give (people) an opportunity to come down to the riverfront more than once a year,” Davidson said.