A crowd of about 150 people attended the community planning event to review and discuss concepts for improvements to the Iowa River and plans for the new riverfront park that will take shape over the next several years in the Riverfront Crossings District once the City’s North Wastewater Treatment Plant is demolished and cleared from the site.
Several over-arching themes emerged from the public input. These include:
- Promote better environmental stewardship of our urban waters, in this case the Iowa River and Ralston Creek;
- Increase public safety by mitigating the drowning hazard created by the Burlington Street dam;
- Improve public access to the Iowa River and Ralston Creek through enhanced trail connections, boardwalks, creek crossings, river overlooks, and by providing new opportunities to get down to the water for fishing, boating and other activities;
- Provide a variety of active and passive recreational opportunities for all seasons;
- Transform the land from impervious industrial hardscape into a regenerative and flood-resilient riverfront greenspace with a focus on native trees and landscapes, improved riparian corridors, wetlands, natural river and stream bank restoration, open greens, gardens and plazas that will invite quiet contemplation, nature play, education, community gathering, festivals and events;
- Include features, elements and programming in the park that celebrate Iowa City as a “river town” and as a center for literature, art and culture; and
- Consider the park a “changeable canvas” for environmental education, recreation and community events, celebrations and programs that respond to current and future needs and desires of the community as the new Riverfront Crossings neighborhood grows around it.
Consultants and City staff will be refining the master plan concepts and developing goals and objectives for the new park based on public feedback. The master plan will be presented to and reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission at their Wednesday, April 8 meeting. The first phase of the park is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, which at a minimum will include natural stream corridor improvements along Ralston Creek, construction of wetlands in the southern portion of the park and Iowa River Corridor Trail connections.
This planning effort has been funded in part by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Great Places and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
For more information, contact Karen Howard at 319-356-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.