Iowa City Park Projects News

Park Projects

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 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


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.


Glendale Park  

This project replaces the current Glendale playground and adds a new shelter, ADA paved path, and creek access area. Completion is expected in spring 2022. 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. 

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.


Ped Mall Playground 

2020 Ped Mall Playground

This project replaces the current Ped Mall playground. Completion is expected in spring 2022. We are working to creating 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. Construction will take place during either the late fall of 2021 or early spring of 2022. 

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. There are several new playgrounds throughout the Iowa City Park System that feature ramps – Willow Creek Park, Creekside Park, and Villa Park to name of 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. Shade structure 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.

Prairie Establishments

As part of the City’s Climate Action Initiative, beneficial prairie and native plantings have been planted on the City property. The Parks and Recreation Department will manage the establishment and maintenance of the prairie. Most of the city's prairie establishments are entering year 2 or 3 in development. To learn more about the process read the Prairie Establishment FAQs. 

Department