Iowa City’s newest park to throw a grand opening party

Iowa City will celebrate the progress on the renovated space on the Riverfront Crossings late July.


Emily Wangen

Riverfront Crossings Park is seen on June 18, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

After three years of construction, the latest addition to Iowa City, the new Riverfront Crossings Park, will hold a grand-opening celebration on July 20.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with Green State Credit Union and the Englert to put on an event with live music performances and a fireworks show.

The park, distinguished by a bright yellow rest area, occupies the former site of Iowa City’s north wastewater-treatment plant, which was taken down after being damaged in the 2008 flood. Parks and Recreation Director Juli Seydell Johnson said the city wants the park to complement the surrounding development as well as provide a buffer should another flood occur.

The renovated space now sees regular traffic from joggers, hikers, and cyclists along the paved trails, families at the playground, and fishers on the river bank.

“Seeing the regeneration into something that’s beautiful and usable is something that the whole community is excited about,” Seydell Johnson said. The land the park was built on was underutilized after the flood, she noted.

The first phase of the park construction, restoring Ralston Creek and creating a patch of wetlands, was completed in 2017. Today, the park has a play area, an event space, renovated trails, and new bridges across the river.

While the grand opening is this month, the work on the park is far from over. The city still wants to add an amphitheater, a shelter next to the playground, and a larger sign and statue. It also wants to make improvements north of the park on privately owned land.

The master plan also shows plans to construct a dog park, an artists’ plaza, and community gardens.

“Although it’s open to the public now, you will continue to see improvements for the next five to 10 years,” Seydell Johnson said.

Englert Executive Director Andre Perry said the theater was hired by Parks and Recreation to provide programming for the event, including a live performance from the New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

“We’re just honored that they would ask us to do this in the first place,” Perry said. “We’re super-excited anytime the city has a new project or initiative they’re working on and to be a part of that.”

Seydell Johnson said the renovated space is built to be flood-tolerant to mitigate damage to local businesses and residential developments in the event of a historic flood, such as the one in 2008.

“As many spaces that are free and open and beautiful that all of us can access, I think is just a bonus for the community here,” Perry said.