City Parks Master Plan approved

The City Council of Iowa City approved the the City Parks Master Plan.


Joseph Cress

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Naomi Hofferber
[email protected]

The Iowa City City Council passed a motion 7-0 to approve the Parks Master Plan on Tuesday night.

Juli Seydell Johnson, the Parks & Recreation director, presented the final version to the council and said she’d heard positive feedback from the community regarding it. The plan has been open for the public to view since August.

The plan addresses issues of accessibility of the parks, maintenance and technology in parks, and equity initiatives to improve park system supports for populations challenged by socioeconomic factors.

The plan was developed by RDG Planning & Design and HBK Engineering, in conjunction with Parks & Recreation. The process began in October 2016, according to the Iowa City website, with a series of community focus groups geared to give feedback on current facilities, to understand community concerns.

“More than 425 Iowa City residents took advantage of opportunities to weigh in on this Park System Master Plan, through participation in focus groups, a key stakeholder workshop, open-house opportunities, and on-line. The input was invaluable in the development of this visionary plan,” the Parks Master Plan stated.

The system mission, according to the Master Plan, is to foster the community’s engagement, sense of place, and well-being through a parks system that includes aspects like gathering spaces for all, quality trails, maintained facilities, engaging programs, and nature based quiet places.

“I think we saw a great plan, I think we all know it’s a great plan,” Councilor Susan Mims said. “It’s an expensive plan, and we’re going to have to work hard to, as we work through budgeting this year and in councils in years to come, to find ways to prioritize our spending. This is really important for quality of life across our city.”

Mims said she hopes to see new progress on the master plan every year.

The recommended actions of the project, beginning 2019 systemwide, is to increase the physical accessibility of parks, increase signage, address equity needs, and make maintenance improvements.

Each park district has separate needs, outlined in the plan.

“I would like to express my enthusiasm for this project,” Nancy Carlson, a resident of Iowa City told the council. “I’ve watched the progress of this I’ve watched the enthusiasm of the parks department … it has been an incredible experience.”

However, Carlson expressed fear that what has been proposed will not come to fruition.

“I have watched the City Council pass numerous plans, only to not see the difficult parts ever dealt with,” Carlson said.

She said she hopes the project will be seen through the end.

Councilor John Thomas said that when he came to the city, two of the issues that immediately came to his concern were the schools and the parks.

“We’re sort of at an interesting point,” he said. “We are at long last, and this movement didn’t begin yesterday, it’s been underway for several years now, we’re now seeing the parks and the schools turn around.”

Madison Purvis contributed to this story.


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