Excerpts from the two Gazette stories below highlight some of the challenges and successes of the Taylor neighborhood. The people there are resilient and committed to rebuilding and remaining in their neighborhood. Families have a ways to go to get back into some of their homes, but they will return.
Taylor Elementary Kids Lose Homes, Possessions, and School in Flood
This past summer there was a devastating flood in Iowa, but Cedar Rapids was impacted the most. Hundreds of businesses and homes were destroyed, and Taylor Elementary School was also left in shambles. It had to close, and every child that attended was forced to relocate. The children are dispersed everywhere: to over 50 different schools. Sometimes siblings were even sent to different schools. The Taylor neighborhood was not prosperous to begin with, and now it is in ruin. Besides losing touch with friends, the children of Taylor Elementary also lost their homes and possessions.
Local Grocery Stores impacted in the Taylor Neighborhood
Thirty-one years after they bought Jim’s Foods at 812 Sixth St. SW, Larry Welp and his wife, Linda, were about a year from paying off the store’s mortgage and retiring.
Eighteen blocks away, Jim and Robin McVeigh had just paid off their loan to start a franchise Sav-A-Lot food store almost a dozen years ago at 1625 J St. SW.
All that changed June 12-13 when flood-waters from the Cedar River inundated the neighborhood grocery stores, wiping out hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory and fixtures. Both stores re-opened and are back in the business of serving their neighborhood.
The challenges that face this neighborhood are not unlike those faced in other neighborhoods both in terms of pre-flood and post-flood Cedar Rapids. As a working class neighborhood, many families struggle to make ends meet, child care may not be readily accessible and available and affordable recreation opportunities are vanishing. Taylor Elementary serves a high number of families that qualify for both Free and Reduced Lunches and Title 1 Programs designated to enhance interest and skill building in reading.
Taylor Elementary already has many elements of the proposed neighborhood centers. Its services include WIC, a local health clinic outreach,as well as Partnership for Safe Families outreach. Through the efforts of TANA- its neighborhood association, it offers the Share Iowa program which provides quality food items in exchange for service to the community and a small fee each month. The Tiger Club is a wraparound program to provide supervised activities to students before and after school.
The plans developed through the Neighborhood Planning Process focus on walk-ability issues and better connections from the Taylor neighborhood to other areas such as the cultural district in New Bohemia/Czech Village. With the future development of green space there will be more access to recreation in and around the Taylor neighborhood. There will be opportunities for mixed use and mixed income housing to revitalize and strengthen this important neighborhood. Connecting the Taylor neighborhood to the amenities of Ellis Park and the Time Check neighborhood truly creates a supportive atmosphere for families.