Iowa City Parks and Recreation has been selected to receive a $50,000 play space grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company for a new nature play area at Riverfront Crossings Park,1001 Clinton St. This investment supports NRPA and Disney’s combined goal of providing one million kids and families with greater access to play.

As part of the national "Meet Me at the Park" healthy living program, park and recreation agencies across the country were invited to share their best ideas on increasing access to play spaces for children and families in their communities. Agencies with the most innovative and impactful project ideas were chosen to receive grants ranging from $10,000–$50,000 to build their projects.     

When Riverfront Crossings Park opens to the public in 2018, the nature play area will offer many options for play, as well as access to Ralston Creek. The plan includes some traditional playground pieces such as swings and a slide, as well as exploration areas created from land form, landscaping, and creek features. The entryway arches from the former Sabin Elementary School will also be incorporated into the play elements of the site.

"This area will be a unique playspace in the heart of Iowa City," Parks and Recreation Director Juli Seydell Johnson said. "Using natural features and a mixture of active and more passive, quiet spaces, we can create play experiences for a wide range of ages and abilities."

In addition to the nature play area, the new Riverfront Crossings Park will have trail connections to the Iowa River Trail, a 5 acre wetland area and new vistas of the Iowa River. Future phases of the park will add park shelters, restrooms, boat access to the Iowa River and a large community gathering event lawn. 

“NRPA is proud to collaborate with The Walt Disney Company to help more children and families experience the benefits of play,” NRPA Director of Health and Wellness Kellie May said. “By increasing access to play spaces, this program will also provide new activities that support healthy lifestyles in local communities.”   

For more information about this project, visit

To learn more about Meet Me at the Park, visit

Date of publication

Thursday, August 10, 2017