Be The Light Park unveiled in downtown Bettendorf

Downtown Bettendorf is shining a little brighter these days thanks, in part, to a newly created Be The Light Park. The pocket park’s name as well as some of its features are a tribute to the late Dale Owen, former CEO and President of Ascentra Credit Union.

Located on State St. across the street from Adel between Grant and State streets, the $30,000 project is a placemaking effort spearheaded by the Downtown Bettendorf Organization (DBO), an affiliate of the Quad Cities Chamber.

“We want to create activity out on the streets and make Downtown Bettendorf a destination,” said Ryan Jantzi, DBO Executive Director. “Our hope is that people will use it during the day and at night. It now is a space where people can enjoy lunch, reflect, and get to know their neighbors.”

The park creates a much-needed recreation space on Downtown Bettendorf’s western edge. Amenities include a new patio, picnic tables, benches, lighting and landscaping. Jantzi said the park also is a traffic calming effort for the adjacent thoroughfare.

Be The Light was supported by the City of Bettendorf, Ascentra, Scott County Regional Authority (SCRA), Iowa Department of Transportation, and Downtown Bettendorf’s Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District (SSMID), which is managed by the DBO. Ascentra donated three major items to the park to honor both Owen, who died in 2020, and his predecessor, Paul Lensmeyer, who died in 2013. Both leaders were strong Downtown Bettendorf supporters and Owen was instrumental in DBO’s creation even serving as its first board chairman.

“It was perfect timing,” said Jennifer Naeve, Ascentra’s Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer. “Ascentra was looking for a place to plant two memorial trees for Dale Owen and Paul Lensmeyer but didn’t have room on our property. After talking to the DBO, we knew the park would be a perfect spot for the trees and great way to honor Dale and Paul.”

Ascentra donated an orange bench – its signature color, and planted two purple robe locust trees, which in the spring bloom purple flowers (the color for pancreatic cancer, which Dale died from) and turn bright orange in the fall. The credit union also purchased the new park’s Be the Light sign.

“Although the park is on the west side of the downtown, far from our building, it’s exactly where Dale would want it to be – located in an area where new growth and new activity could occur,” said Linda Andry, Ascentra Credit Union President and CEO. “While walking in the Ascentra Gilda’s Run for Laugh’s in 2021, Dale’s wife Angie noticed the benches along the riverfront bike path and mentioned to me that she wanted to have a similar bench in Dale’s memory. Honoring Angie’s idea, we included a memorial orange bench at the park to compliment the picnic tables and patio. Two Purple Robe Locust trees have also been planted in the park, one for Paul Lensmeyer (President & CEO 1993-2013), and one for Dale Owen (President & CEO 2013-2020). Purple is the symbolic color for pancreatic cancer, which took Dale’s life after a 5 month fight.”

Jantzi said the park was carved out of unusable space purchased as part of the new Interstate 74 Bridge by the Iowa Department of Transportation, which gave permission for the project. The project’s contractors were: Trapkus Build Inc. Greenspace Associates, Riverbend Signworks, and American Electric.

Applauding DBO and Jantzi for the park’s development, Ascentra Marketing Manager Barry Shaw said “I wish everyone could have met Dale and gotten to know how humble and thoughtful of a man he was. I think the purpose and message of this park does a great job of showing others just how important it is to be the light and make a difference in each other’s lives.”

During the dedication, Andry announced that Ascentra would be giving $5,000 donations to 10 local organizations, in honor of Dale and Paul and in the spirit of Random Acts of Light Day.

“This park provides our community with a reminder to serve and be the light to others in the same way that Dale and Paul were for our community,” said Andry. “In the spirit of National Random Acts of Light Day, we’d like to spread today’s theme of kindness to some Bettendorf Organizations that Dale and Paul gave their time and talents to.”

The DBO is one of the organizations that received a $5,000 donation from Ascentra.