Iowa City Parks and Recreation Master Plans

Are you interested in the future of Iowa City Parks and Recreation? This page is home to all the details and information about Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department's master plans.

Current Master Plans

  • Gather Here Recreation Master Plan
  • Gather Here Park System Master Plan
  • Tree Inventory
  • Natural Areas Master Plan
  • Urban Forest Management Plan

Gather Here Recreation Master Plan 
Gather Here Recreation Master Plan

Iowa City Recreation needs your help to reimagine recreation through the “Gather Here” Recreation planning initiative. This plan provides a study of the City’s current recreation centers to evaluate conditions, and lifespan of the facilities, as well as providing a visioning component to determine what programs, activities, and events are desired by the community. The goal is to shape the facilities and programs to better serve the Iowa City community.

The final plan will be reviewed by the City Council at the October 18, 2022, Work Session and Regular Meeting. The Executive Summary and Full Plan are available here:

Gather Here Park System Master Plan

This plan provides a study of the City’s current active park areas to evaluate accessibility, condition, and lifespan of the facilities, as well as providing a visioning component to determine the park amenities and facilities desired by the community. The goal is to shape the park system and facilities in their role as gathering spaces for the Iowa City community.

This plan focused on the department’s outdoor spaces and does not address the programs or services based inside the recreation centers or City Park Pool.

RDG Design of Des Moines was selected to lead this 9-month project geared at creating a prioritized plan to guide maintenance and plans for additions to park facilities.

The master plan process began at the end of October 2016 with a series of community focus groups geared at soliciting feedback on current facilities to determine accessibility and maintenance concerns. A public input open house was held in conjunction with the Iowa City Holiday Market on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center. The plan was completed in June 2017 and was approved with minor revisions by the Parks and Recreation Commission on July 12. The plan was approved by the Iowa City Council in Sept. 2017. 

View the Parks Master Plan Online
View the Parks Master Plan Park Inventory Online 

Tree Inventory

In 2016, the Iowa City Parks and Forestry Division began an inventory of the City's trees. Over the past three years, a team of arborists from Plan-It Geo, a geotechnical firm from Colorado, gathered data on the City's urban forestry. Plan-It Geo also mapped and cataloged the tree species. This inventory yielded an interactive map to help the Parks and Forestry Division better manage and maintain Iowa City's urban forest.

View the Tree Inventory Online 

Iowa City tree inventory video

Note: The information and data presented herein is a snapshot in time and is intended to be an accurate representation of existing records. The City of Iowa City assumes no liability for errors or omissions. Users relying on this information should do so at their own risk.

Plan-It Geo provides online tutorials for navigating and using the tree inventory.

    Natural Areas Master Plan

    The goal of this planning process is to study and assess the functional, economic, recreational, and aesthetic value of the Iowa City Parks and Recreation system's natural areas. Applied Ecological Services of Minnesota was selected to lead this 9-month project. The final product will inform a 10-year management plan intended to protect the value of these sites.

    Project Milestones

    • Project Initiation & internal kickoff meeting:  Oct. - Nov. 2016
    • Aerial Photography:  Nov. 10, 2016
    • Existing Data Compilation & Review:  Dec. 2016 - March 2017
    • Field Preparation:  Mar 2017 Field Inventory & Assessment:  April - July 2017
    • Prioritization of Maintenance & Staffing Recommendations: Aug. 31, 2017
    • City Policy & Ordinance Review & Recommendations:  Sept. 30, 2017
    • Draft Management Plan:  Oct. 15, 2017
    • Final Management Plan:  Dec. 31, 2017

    View the Full Plan Here 

    Urban Forest Management Plan

    Iowa City is dedicated to building a thriving urban and community forest for a healthy and vibrant city. Realizing the community forest is a valued asset, Iowa City invested in a collaborative planning process, involving extensive urban forest resource and program analysis to develop a clear, concise, and timeline-oriented Urban Forest Management Plan.

    The overall goal of the planning process was to develop a sustainable Urban Forestry Program, led by the Division of Parks and Forestry, which is committed to this measured, monitored, and strategic long-term investment.

    The strategic planning process engaged City staff, with the interest of the community, to evaluate all aspects and components of a comprehensive community forestry program. Together, this team developed goals and strategies to guide the City’s Urban Forestry Program over the next 20 years. 

    View the Urban Forest Management Plan Summary Here
    View the Full Urban Forest Management Plan Here 

    Park Planning Projects

    For updates on park projects, please visit