The Transforming Gates and Byrnes Park Project is officially under way!

The Transforming Gates and Byrnes Park Project is officially under way!

On May 30 a contract in the amount of $9.36 million was awarded to Woodruff Construction (Waterloo) by the City Council for Gates Park Improvements. Subsequent value engineering meetings have resulted in meaningful project savings thanks to great cooperation between the contractor and design team. Official Notice to Proceed was recently issued and work has now officially begun on the Gates Park portion of this project, to include all planned elements except those impacted by the ongoing environmental reviews of the former Chamberlain Manufacturing site. Initial focus will be on completion of the Spray Park and Pauline Barrett Inclusive Playground, with the soccer field renovations, basketball courts, amphitheater, and South Gates improvements to follow.

We currently have 97% of the original $17.5 million target amount secured in the form of grants, gifts, and formal commitments totaling $17.05 million. New grants secured since our last update include a $1.5 million gift from the Van G. Miller Family Charitable Foundation, $10,000 from the Waterloo Kiwanis Club, and $10,000 from the Gallagher Family Foundation.  Several smaller donations have continued to come in to the Waterloo Community Foundation through the “Make a Splash” grass roots fundraising campaign.  In total we have received grants and gifts totaling $12,549,777 (does not include dedicated City funds). The level of private support for this transformational project has been remarkable.  Together we are well on our way to success in the biggest, most complex park improvement project in Waterloo’s history.

As bids are being received we are realizing that we will need to identify significant additional funding to complete this project and we are hard at work on procuring additional grants and identifying supplemental funding from City sources, with the goal of securing approximately 20% -25% in additional funds for the project.

As a cost savings measure, the design for the new Byrnes Aquatic Center is being revised to include the remodel and re-use of the existing bath house. It has been determined that the existing building is sound and can be effectively re-used, saving approximately $2 million. Bids will be let this summer/fall for construction  of the new Aquatic Center after the 2023 summer swim season.

Thanks are due to Leisure Services staff and other City departments for the in-house work being done to help reduce the overall cost of this project. And many thanks go to our Building Maintenance Department for managing to keep Byrnes Pool open this season despite its deteriorated mechanical state.

To learn more about this project or to make a donation, please visit our website at,

Paul Huting
Leisure Services Director