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Michael touts economic benefits of Lincoln Highway Historic District

August 10, 2018
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

By John Speer


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King Tower Cafe on Tama;s east side located on what is now Business Highway 30.
News-Herald file/John Speer

Anne Michael backed by Colleen Davis, Tama residents and advocates for the Lincoln Highway Bridge restoration, the adjoining Lincoln Highway Bridge Park and the creation of a historic district on Tama's east side laid more ground work with the Tama City Council Monday night.

Donations to complete efforts to have funding in place for restoration of the 103-year old bridge on 5th Street must be directed to the City of Tama, Michael told the council.

Michael told The News-Herald just short of $10,000 is needed to meet the estimated repair amount needed.

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With the boost of the $50,000 Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grant through the Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation and Development program combined with other funding the work is close to being within reach both Michael and Davis told council members.

Funding also has been received to pay for research and then an application to have the King Tower Cafe, also on the east side, added to the National Historic Register. With the bridge, park, the cafe and the already restored tourist cabin at King Tower Michael says Tama has the makings for the historic district.

Michael cited surveys she has found which show a number of states have studied the impact of investment in preservation vs. industrial efforts and have found they are equal or preservation tops in job creation and economic growth.

"Preservation taps into "heritage tourists," Michael said and noted the research said are 78 percent of all U.S. tourists numbering a total of 118 million.

"They have interest in history and we need to get those folks here," Michael said.

If a small community has something to offer (it) brings people into that community, and I think we have it here."

She admitted, "We'll have people say it's not going to work in Tama - that's wrong."

Michael called on the council to continue to work to "clean up" areas of the east side to make it more attractive.

With the development of the historic district Michael said it could follow to a continued revitalization of downtown Tama with more businesses.

"We have the goose that laid the golden egg and need to get on it," she said.

Council member Emily Babinat credited Michael and Davis with their community betterment efforts and "helping us with vision."

The Lincoln Highway Bridge is located on East 5th Street which was rebuilt last year as a truck route from Business Highway 30 to U.S. Highway 63.

Restoration of the 103-year old bridge located on the east end of the route was not a part of the project.

Restoration, modification or replacement have all been under consideration for the future of the bridge.



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