Caleb Adams, 6, recently came up with what he thought was a great idea. He believes it could be a great way to draw people to his hometown of Grand Mound — to visit, and maybe even to live.

Caleb wanted the city to build a zoo.

It would include attractions such as a llama, chameleon, seals, a spotted salamander and a warthog, he envisioned. 

He came up with the idea while watching a television program called, “The Zoo.”

“When I saw the show, I decided, why not build a zoo in Grand Mound?” Caleb explained, as he sat at a picnic table in the city’s ballpark. “Actually, we’re close to where I want to build it … actually, we’re super close.”

Caleb pointed across the road from the ballpark and to the south, and stated he thought it would be the perfect location.

He put his idea to paper and wrote a letter to the guy who could possibly make a zoo happen — Grand Mound Mayor Kurt Crosthwaite. Caleb asked him to consider the zoo proposal.

Crosthwaite said he was working out of his home one day when he heard his doorbell ring. Given he was on the phone, he couldn’t answer the door. But he looked out the window and noticed Caleb and his mother, Anne, driving away on their bikes, and later found Caleb’s letter tucked into his front door.

“Basically, it said, ‘Kurt, I want to build a zoo,’” Crosthwaite said with a smile. “I thought, I’ve got to get down to city hall and write him back on the city’s letterhead. I just got a real kick out of it.”

As the town’s mayor for almost four years and a member of the city council for 16 years before that, Crosthwaite admitted he’s never had such a request come across his desk — or left in his door — before.

But he felt Caleb deserved a proper response.

In his letter, typed on the city’s official letterhead, Crosthwaite thanked Caleb for his interest in bringing a zoo to Grand Mound. However, he explained, zoos are expensive to build, staff and maintain, and the city simply didn’t have that kind of money in its budget.

He did mention the city will be building a walking trail around the ballpark next year, and that he hoped to see Caleb and his family utilizing the new trail.

Caleb, the son of Greg and Anne Adams and the older brother of 4-year-old Lane and 1-year-old Mason, is intelligent, inquisitive and always eager to share his ideas.

As Anne can attest, her son has lots and lots of ideas.

While the first-grader at Ekstrand Elementary was disappointed, he believes he has a couple different ideas on how to make the zoo more cost-efficient for the city.

Again, as Anne can attest, her son is very persistent and usually has an answer for everything.

“My first idea is to only build part of the zoo now, and the rest later,” he related. “My other idea is, we can have a zoo on wheels! We could use a few semis, and a few flat-beds and put homes for the animals on them and drive them around for people to see. Maybe even the Quad Cities … maybe? But the rest of the time, they would stay here.”

Caleb did like the idea of the new walking trail, which Crosthwaite said is estimated to cost around $208,000. However, the city received $122,000 in funding through the Iowa DOT’s TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) Grant.

Crosthwaite said every time he drives through Clarence, he sees the trail around its ballpark and notices how nice it looks and how much residents utilize it.

Some preliminary engineering work already has been done regarding the trail, which will be one-third of a mile long. Crosthwaite said he hopes it will be ready to use sometime next year.