Iowa City is home to over 50 parks and natural areas. Almost 100 percent of Iowa City live within 1/2 mile of open space areas, including the City's Parks or natural areas. The Parks Division provides and maintains adequate open space, parks and trails for the residents of Iowa City.
This page provides updates on current and future park projects.
City Park Adventure Play
A new, large play area will be constructed on the hillside between Upper and Lower City Park in 2019. A public meeting was held on Oct. 10, 2018 to gather input. Preliminary designs will be complete in early 2019 with construction to take place the following summer.
Upper City Park
Improvements were made to Upper City Park inFall 2017 including a new playground, addition of a Gaga pit, and the beginning of restoration on the historic City Park cabins. The cabin project is supported by Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) funds administered by the Iowa Dept. of Cultural Affairs.
City Park Cabins
Structural and architectural restoration of the two historic cabins located in City Park, 200 E. Park Rd., will begin on Monday, July 31, 2017. The restoration work will include but not be limited to wood shake shingle roof replacement, structural and concrete foundation stabilization, carpentry for wood floors, windows and doors, and log replacement and repair.
The project was awarded to North Construction of Muscatine with Heritage Woodworks of Clemens as the subcontractor.
The cabins were built in 1889 and 1913, and both are on the National Register of Historic Places so their restoration will follow strict historic guidelines within the plans and project manual.
Heritage Woodworks will carefully inventory, remove and transport both structures from the site to their warehouse in Clemens where they can repair the logs in a controlled environment. Most of the cabin repairs will take place offsite throughout the winter and spring and be reconstructed next summer final completion expected in early 2019.
The cabin project is supported in part by Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) funds administered by the Iowa Dept. of Cultural Affairs, a grant from the Community Foundation of Johnson County and private donations from Iowa City residents.
This project replaces the Creekside Park shelter, restrooms, and playground. Public input meetings and open houses took place during the spring and summer of 2017. Construction began in the fall of 2018 with anticipated completion in the spring of 2019.
View the Creekside Park plan here.
East Side Sport Complex
The East Side Sport Complex master plan was completed in May 2016. Public input meetings were held in Dec. 2015. The master planning phase for this sports complex is complete. The project has yet to receive funding for construction.
Fairmeadows Park Playground and Shelter
The Fairmeadows Park picnic shelter and playground are scheduled for renovations in 2020. Public input meetings will take place in the spring or summer of 2019. The intention is to replace the current playground with a play area for preschool children as the Grant Wood Elementary playground is adjacent to the site. No changes are anticipated to the spray pad with this project.
Hickory Hill Park
The City of Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department, in coordination with Friends of Hickory Hill Park, completed a master plan for Hickory Hill Park in 2016. Public input meetings were held on March 13, 2016 and May 15, 2016.
Current status: The master planning phase of this project is complete. The wooden pedestrian bridge near the First Ave. entrance was replaced with a pre-engineered steel bridge in May 2017. Due to a number of factors relating to project design and availability of contractors, the remaining work is scheduled for completion early in the fall of 2018. The remaining improvements will focus on the trail improvements (grading, erosion control and granular limestone replacement), repair or replacement of three bridges and the addition of directional signage at key locations along the trails.
The Napoleon Softball Complex playground is scheduled for renovations in 2020. Further information will be available in the spring of 2019.
New Park Development - West Side
A neighborhood meeting was held in the fall of 2018 to gather input regarding development of City-owned land near Camp Cardinal Blvd. and Preston Lane into a park. The overwhelming feedback from the neighbors was a request to leave the area as natural woodlands without trails or park amenities. The land has been surveyed, but no further design or development will take place at this time.
Riverfront Crossings Park
Riverfront Crossings Park is open to the public as construction on Phase 3 and beyond continue.
Phase 1 includes park mass grading, steam alignment and stabilization, wetland creation, trail, traffic circle and parking lot construction. These projects were completed in 2018.
Phase 2 includes the nature Play Area, partially funded with Federal Land and Water Conservation Grant, Disney/NRPA Play Spaces Grant, Iowa City Pilot Club Donation, and Calder Wills Memorial Donation. The playground opened in the summer of 2018.
Phase 3 includes restroom/picnic shelter, park lighting, and signage. Construction began summer 2018 with anticipated completion in early 2019.
Phase 3.1 includes the addition of a plaza in the traffic circle including the Snelson sculpture. Anticipated completion of this phase is early 2019.
This phase includes a river plaza and river trails. Designs were complete in 2018. Funding has not been secured.
Park Accessibility Improvements
This annual project addresses accessibility concerns to current park amenities. Projects in 2018 included additional paved paths in Pheasant Hill, Mercer, Highland, Tower Court, and Villa Parks.
Parks scheduled for accessibility improvements in 2019 include College Green, Brookland, and Hunter's Run Parks.
The Scott Park picnic shelter and playground are scheduled for renovations in 2020. Public input meetings will take place in the spring or summer of 2019. The intention is to replace the shelter with a design specified in the 2017 Iowa City Park Master Plan. No changes are anticipated to Rita's Ranch Off-leash Dog Park, trails, athletic fields, stream bank, or parking lot.
The Wetherby Park picnic shelter, restrooms, and playground are scheduled for renovations in 2020. Public input meetings will take place in the spring or summer of 2019. The intention is to replace the shelter and restroom to designs specified in the 2017 Iowa City Park Master Plan. No changes are anticipated to the splash pad, sport courts, gardens, trails, or parking lot.
Willow Creek Park
This project replaces the Willow Creek Park shelter, restrooms, and playground. Special attention is being given to creating a play space that is fun, inclusive and accessible to a wide range of users. The Willow Creek playground was last renovated in 1997. The shelter and restroom predate the playground. Planning for the project will take place during fall 2018 with construction scheduled for spring 2019.
A public input meeting and open house will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 at Willow Creek Park, 1117 Teg Dr.