City of Waverly | Wednesday, 19 February 2020

I have had the privilege of working for the City of Waverly for nearly two years. As a commuter from a smaller nearby rural community, I noticed from day one that not only was Waverly a bit larger, but it was actively progressive. It didn’t take long for me to look around and notice the abundance of recreational opportunities this community has to offer.

In my position I serve as the Office Coordinator for the Leisure Services Department. I work directly with the staff that is on the “front lines” of creating and maintaining outdoor recreational facilities. It is easy to see internally and externally the pride that the staff and residents of the City of Waverly take in living a healthy lifestyle. This can only be accomplished through partnerships with various community organizations. The collaboration with WAPHL (Waverly Area Partnership for Healthy Living) is one such partnership that focuses primarily on promoting a healthy lifestyle for the residents of Waverly and the surrounding area. Although it was a part of my job duties, it was also an honor for me to work with other representatives from WAPHL to submit the application that labeled Waverly a Healthy Hometown for the second year in a row.

The Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award we received recognizes Waverly for its accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within the community. To earn this prestigious award, we were tasked with submitting at least four tactics that were implemented within the last year. These tactics had to show the active work to improve the physical, social and emotional well-being of the community. Not only did the award offer recognition, but WAPHL received $5,000 each year to be used to continue this important work.

For the 2021 award, we submitted seven projects. These are a few highlights from the projects submitted:

The Streetscape Project – The project included improving elements such as street furniture, trash receptacles, bicycle racks, landscaping, water features, informational and directional signs, public art, lighting, sidewalks, and gathering spaces to increase the overall convenience, safety, and value to the downtown retail district. The outcomes have been very positive and impactful to the downtown area. The award last year was used to create a “Waverly” mural on the side of the bakery building downtown. I am excited to see what the WAPHL group will do with the award this year.

Disc Golf Enhancements – The disc golf course is located in Brookwood Park and is open to everyone. The baskets were damaged by ice in the spring of 2019 and since being updated the course and park have seen an influx of new players and patrons. I haven’t personally ever played disc golf, but I hear it’s a lot of fun.

Prairie Park Neighborhood Collaboration – This project was initiated by the residents adjacent to Prairie Park requesting the addition of a shelter house and basketball/pickleball court. This became the first outdoor pickleball court in Waverly. This project was truly an example of awesome community partnership, where all parties stepped up to the plate and did their part to complete the project with limited challenges. The project was a personal favorite of mine. Not only was I able to contribute through writing a grant that provided a portion of funding, but I was also able to see first hand the collaboration that took place to bring this to fruition. It is a beautiful park in a thriving neighborhood. It has been well received and has spurred other neighborhoods to collaborate and improve their parks as well.

Community Garden Enhancements – Since the gardens were established in 2010, they have provided community members with quality gardening opportunities and are used to harvest and donate thousands of pounds of produce each year to local food banks. In 2020 the gardens produced and donated 8,974 pounds of fresh, healthy produce.  The project included the addition of 6 new raised beds for community members to rent and garden their own crops. It is continually amazing to see the volunteers come together each year to keep these gardens flourishing.

Cedar River Parkway Trail Extension –The final and most impactful mile of the Cedar River Parkway corridor was completed this year. It included a multiple-span bridge crossing of the Cedar River and is the longest bridge in Bremer County at 820 feet. This bridge will provide the only 500-year flood-resistant crossing of the Cedar River for Waverly. The scenic section of the Parkway is paralleled by a ten-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle trail. The Parkway trail crosses and also connects to the Waverly Rail Trial, completing a segment of the regional 40-mile Rolling Prairie Trial from Dumont to Readlyn. It provides a connection to the youth soccer complex, the development of Cedar River Park youth ball diamonds, and the Waverly-Shell Rock school campuses for residents in East Waverly. The Rail Trail is an absolute favorite feature for many residents and daily visitors, like myself.

Day of Caring Volunteer Event – In July of 2019, The Accel Group of Waverly approached United Way about partnering to bring the event to the Waverly community. The goal for the first year was to have 100 volunteers participating, that goal was greatly surpassed with over 500 volunteers completing over 60 different projects on September 11, 2019. The Leisure Services Department is especially grateful to have this event each year. Volunteers have helped stain bridges, clean up playground equipment, and complete other tasks that have greatly helped our staff. We look forward to the continuation of this event in years to come.

Go-Hawk Hustle 5K Fundraiser – This event was identified as a way to incorporate wellness into the fundraising efforts at  Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School. It became a wellness event for both staff and students and aligned with Iowa’s Healthiest State Walk on October 9, 2019. The fundraiser challenged students to help raise $10,000 to support teachers’ classrooms and educational materials. The Go-Hawk Hustle impacted nearly 750 participants and surpassed its fundraising goal and raising around $16,000 for the middle school. This event was a springboard for students and staff to feel comfortable participating in community challenges like this in the future. The event has become well-known in the community and is widely supported by local businesses, parents and community members.

Narrowing it down to these seven was actually a challenging feat. There are so many more positive and progressive projects and opportunities throughout the community. These seven projects were really just a snap shot.  It is evident that the City of Waverly goes above and beyond to create and promote a healthy and active lifestyle for its residents and guests.

Even though I do not personally live in Waverly, I have grown to love this community. The beauty, community spirit, and vast recreational and healthy opportunities make it a joy to arrive here to work each day. It is an added bonus to get to work directly with these efforts. If you haven’t traveled the trail, perused downtown, or enjoyed one of the 21 parks throughout the community, I would personally encourage you to get up, get out, and go enjoy all that Waverly has to offer!

Jen Troyna
Office Coordinator, Waverly Leisure Services