Iowa City Park Projects News

Park Projects

Iowa City is home to over 60 parks, trails, 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 and Recreation Department provides and maintains adequate open space, parks, and trails for the residents of Iowa City. This webpage provides updates on current and future park projects. 

If you have any questions regarding the following projects please contact us


Right-of-way tree plantings

The City will be planting numerous trees in public right-of-ways in the southeast portion of Iowa City. Streets, where planting will occur, includes Nevada Ave (south of Lakeside), Aster Ave, Whispering Prairie Ave, Blue Stem Ct, Coneflower Ct, Indigo Dr, Indigo Ct, Thistle Ct, Whispering Meadow Dr, Primrose Ct, Blazing Star Dr, Pinto Ln, Friendship St. The trees will likely be planted fall of 2023 but could be moved to the spring of 2024 depending on tree availability.

Details about this Capital Improvement Project were provided on a door hanger notification to homes in the affected neighborhoods at the first of the year, providing an opportunity for those not interested in the program to opt-out. The City will remain responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the trees planted in the right-of-way, but residents are encouraged to help water the newly planted trees if they are inclined.

The addition of the new trees provides many benefits for the neighborhood, such as decreasing water runoff and limiting flooding, decreasing carbon dioxide buildup and the provided shade from the trees will help the surrounding residents save on energy bills. For more information about this project, contact Parks & Forestry Superintendent Tyler Baird at 319-356-5100 (ext. 2069) or at tbaird@iowa-city.org.

Below is a map of the region receiving trees.


Kiwanis Park 

The Kiwanis Park Nature Play Area is scheduled for renovations during the summer of 2023.  A neighborhood open house was held at the park on October 4, 2022, to gather ideas for the renovations. A follow-up meeting was held on November 22, 2022, to show the design concept based on previous public input. 

The intent is for the play area to remain very similar to its current boundaries.  The concrete tunnels and boulders will likely remain.  The large play structure will be replaced due to age and condition.  Options for its replacement were presented at the neighborhood open house.  Most of the wood will be removed from the play area.  It is also anticipated that a portion of the sand play area will be replaced with toddler-sized equipment. 

An online survey was available from Oct. 4 — Oct .15, 2022, for those unable to attend the October meeting.  Input gathered during this phase will be used to further the design and choose play equipment. 

An online survey was available from Nov. 23 — Dec. 3, 2022, for those unable to attend the November meeting. Input gathered will be used for the final steps of the design phase.


Hunter's Run Park

The Hunter's Run Park playgrounds are scheduled for renovations during the summer of 2023.  A public input open house was held on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center.

The project is looking to replace and update both playgrounds that are currently on site. Vegetation will be removed along the creek bed.

An online survey was available from Nov. 23 — Dec. 3, 2022, for those unable to attend the meeting.  Input gathered during this phase will be used to further the design and choose play equipment.  An updated plan will be available for public review and comment later in the process.


Ped Mall Playground 
Play Tower with slide attached. Large Book Display in the front.

This project replaced the current Ped Mall playground. Construction began Summer of 2022 and completed in the Fall of 2022. We are working to create a play space that is fun, inclusive, and accessible to a wide range of users. The Ped Mall playground was last renovated about 20 years ago. 

Revised Ped Mall Playground Concept

We asked and more than 550 of you responded. Thank you! The steering committee and Parks and Recreation Commission have reviewed the public input, agreed to an updated concept and decided to move forward in the next step of sourcing equipment to create this exciting space. Several changes have been made to the Downtown Ped Mall Playground Concept based on public input received. All responses received are available for viewing in the list of hyperlinks below. 

Here are the primary changes that have been made to the playground design.

  1. Added stairs to and inside the tower to provide additional methods to access the top for both children and caregivers. A ramp was considered, but due to the limited size of the playground, this option was not chosen. Several new playgrounds throughout the Iowa City Park System feature ramps – Willow Creek Park, Creekside Park, and Villa Park, to name a few of the recent additions.
  2. Added wheelchair-accessible We Go Round merry-go-round and spin cycle. The We Go Round will be in place of the Endless Sphere climbing sculpture. Requests were made to include additional motion-based activities that were ground-level and accommodated kids using wheelchairs.
  3. Added a small slide in the book area as requests were made for additional play options for younger children.
  4. Added a very short and simple zip line from the tower to the southeast. There wasn’t space for swings or many of the other fun ideas that were requested.
  5. Changed the color scheme. Respondents either loved or hated the primary color scheme. The new scheme is still colorful, but fits better within this context and is perhaps appealing to a larger audience.
  6. The shade structure was modified. The shade design was increased based on the number of respondents indicating that this was a much-welcomed addition. The new design includes double overlapping layers and wider panels of fabric to create more shade.
  7. Several people mentioned that they couldn’t really tell what the new playground was going to include from the first drawings. A new virtual walkthrough is available to help residents get a sense of how the space will feel from ground level.

Final Ped Mall Playground Design

The final choices changed from concept design in order to increase the level of accessibility to the tower structure, add toddler swings, and refine the City of Literature elements. The new tower will have stair access to all levels and features a lively architectural design that fits well with the downtown area.


Whispering Meadows Park 
Whispering Meadows playground and swing set

The park improvement project to Whispering Meadows Park included a pocket park on Indigo Court, a trail connection, ADA access improvements, and a small playground. Construction began in the Spring of 2022 and was completed in the Fall of 2022.

A public meeting was held at Wetherby Park to review the proposed improvement concepts and collect public input. For those that were unable to attend a public input feedback form was also available. Feedback is currently being compiled. 


Glendale Park 
Glendale Park playground, swing set, and park shelter

This project replaced the current Glendale playground and added a new shelter, ADA paved path, and creek access area. Construction began in the Fall of 2021 and completed in the Summer of 2022.

Revised Glendale Playground Concept

A public meeting was held at Glendale Park to review the proposed improvement concepts and collect public input. For those that were unable to attend a public input feedback form was also available.     A revised playground concept was selected which can be viewed by selecting the link below. 


Happy Hollow Park

The park improvement project to Happy Hollow Park includes a new playground, and side amenities, and explores the future of the baseball field.

A public meeting was held at Happy Hollow Park to review the proposed improvement concepts and collect public input. For those unable to attend, a public input feedback form was provided for three weeks. Feedback is currently being compiled. 

View the display boards shown at the 2022 Happy Hollow Park Public Input Open House.


Chadek Green Park 
Chadek Green Park

The park improvement project to Chadek Green Park includes ADA access improvements, a new restroom, a new shelter, and a parking area.

A public meeting was held at Chadek Green Park to review the proposed improvement concepts and collect public input. For those that were unable to attend a public input feedback form was also available. Feedback is currently being compiled. 

View the Chadek Green Park improvement preliminary concepts.


Court Hill Park 
Court Hill Park

The park improvement project to Court Hill Park includes ADA access improvements, a playground replacement, and a shelter replacement.

A public meeting was held at Court Hill Park to review the proposed improvement concepts and collect public input. For those that were unable to attend a public input feedback form was also available. Feedback is currently being compiled. 


East Side Sports Complex

The East Side Sports 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.


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.

REAP logo

Current status: The master planning phase of this project is complete. Bridge, trail, and sign work was completed in 2019.  Additional invasive species removal, streambank stabilization, and prairie restoration will take place in 2020 through funding from an Iowa DNR REAP Grant.

 


Park Accessibility Improvements

This annual project addresses accessibility concerns to current park amenities largely consisting of additional paved paths. Projects in 2018 included Pheasant Hill, Mercer, Highland, Tower Court, and Villa Parks. Parks scheduled for accessibility improvements in 2021 include Brookland and Hunter's Run Parks.


Prairie Establishments

As part of the City’s Climate Action Initiative, beneficial prairie and native plantings have been planted on City property. The Parks and Recreation Department manages the establishments and cares for the maintenance of the prairie. To learn more about prairie establishments use the resources below. 

2018 - 2020 Prairie Establishments

Most of the city's prairie establishments are entering year 2 or 3 of development.

2021 - 2022 Prairie Improvement

All proposed locations for this prairie improvement project are currently maintained in a no-mow state. The goal of this project is to increase the ecosystem in three locations by improving the vegetative cover. 

Department