Iowa City Parks and Recreation in initial stages of city recreation improvement plan

Iowa City Parks and Recreation’s Gather Here Recreation Master Plan will use public input to gauge the needs of the public of certain facilities.

A+playground+sits+in+the+snow+in+City+Park+in+Iowa+City+on+Monday%2C+Jan.+27%2C+2022.

Grace Kreber

A playground sits in the snow in City Park in Iowa City on Monday, Jan. 27, 2022.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter


The Iowa City Parks and Recreation department is seeking public input on future improvement projects, as part of the Iowa City Parks Gather Here Recreation Master Plan.

The goal of these actions by Iowa City Parks and Recreation is to ask the community, through a survey, if recreation facilities are still meeting their needs.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation is currently waiting to receive all the public input to create the final plan.

One of the facilities Iowa City Parks and Recreation wants to renovate is the City Park pool, which was built in 1949 and has been showing signs of deterioration.

Currently, Iowa City Parks and Recreation does not know what is going to happen to the pool, said Parks and Recreation Director Juli Seydell Johnson at a Jan. 12 Iowa City City Council work session.

“Pools generally don’t last that long and there’s a number of issues behind the scenes we’re putting on some band-aids,” Iowa City recreation Superintendent Brad Barker said. “It looks great to the public, but mechanically behind the scenes there’s some different issues, and so we have to start thinking about the future of what that pool looks like.”

Barker said another facility that Iowa City Parks and Recreation is wishing to renovate is the Robert E. Lee Community Recreation Center, an aging facility.

“The public will be using those resources, so I think we want to hear from them what we need and what will serve best,” Iowa City City Councilor Laura Bergus said.

The Iowa City City Council heard updates from Iowa City Parks and Recreation on the Gather Here Recreation Master Plan during their budget work sessions in January.

“We got updates on the fact that they’re underway currently in this evaluation process and that they’re working with a consultant to engage the public and get the feedback needed to help guide these renovations,” Bergus said.

The Gather Here Recreation Master Plan, which was established last fall, will allow for a study to be conducted on the current condition of Iowa City Parks and Recreation facilities, such as the Robert E. Lee Recreation center.

“We’re trying to develop a roadmap for the future direction of our recreation facilities, programs, and events,” Barker said.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation has been using focus groups and community engagement events, Barker said, to try to gauge the public opinion on what should be done to facilities.

The Gather Here Recreation Master Plan has been in the works for some time but had to properly be budgeted from the Iowa City Parks operating funds before it could be put in place.

“We can start using that as our guide for how we handle programming and planning for special events and budgeting for facility improvements,” Barker said.

The Iowa City Parks and Recreation department is in the process of putting a report together and will formally adopt the plan in the summer.

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