MASON CITY | Dennis Wilson, chairman of the Friends of the 457, had a message for North Iowans Monday.

"Don't let anyone give you a sad-sack story about Mason City," he said. "We're a city of doers."

Wilson presided at the ribbon-cutting for Cannonball Gardens, a beautiful restoration of an area around the Cannonball steam engine that was once rampant with weeds and other blight.

Wilson said the first idea to beautify the area came in a conversation with Mark Suby, then parks superintendent, and Monte Appelgate, then a Park Board member in 2003, after the restoration of the engine had been completed.

One thing led to another, he said, and David Hopper drew up a plan for extensive landscaping.

The City Council and Park Board offered their support. The city offered $70,000 in matching funds "and we topped that by $15,000," Wilson said.

He said the support of the city, of various foundations and citizens made it all possible. Work began in 2014 and was completed in 2016, with the exception of few minor things left to be done.

Wilson said the city has been a tremendous help, citing Bob Berggren and Bill Stangler in particular -- but he cautioned that the city can't be solely expected to maintain Cannonball Gardens.

So the volunteers' work isn't done, he said.

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