Iowa City City Council approves installation of new Ped Mall playground

The council approval comes at a cost of $234,000 and looks to focus on additional accessibility within the play space.


Katie Goodale

The playground by the Iowa City Public Library is seen on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Downtown was quiet during the first weekend after spring break as classes have been moved online and the bars closed due to coronavirus.

Ryan Hansen and Emily Delgado

The Iowa City City Council approved the renovation of the Pedestrian Mall playground, which is estimated to cost $234,000. 

The renovation will allow for installation of new playground equipment, surfacing, and shade areas. Funding for this project will come out of the Pedestrian Mall Playground account.

Juli Seydell Johnson, director of Iowa City Parks and Recreation, introduced the resolution and said deconstruction of the old playground and reconstruction of the new playground will begin at the end of May.

“This is all about fun – the playground renovation in the Ped Mall,” Johnson said. “You may recall that we have already ordered the playground so this is the bid for the removal of the existing playground and the installation of this playground and the safety surfacing underneath.”

Iowa City Parks ordered the new equipment, which will arrive at the end of May. Iowa City Parks and Recreation anticipates the project will complete in June or July.

The designing of the soon-to-be renovated playground was planned through a committee made up of Iowa City parents, downtown businesses, and Parks and Recreation staff. 

“We put the designs up for public comment,” Johnson said. “We had about 550 people comment on this design with lots of ideas about what needed to change.”

The builders altered the color scheme, additional accessibility features were added, and other alterations were prior to the aspects being ordered.

City Councilor Pauline Taylor voiced her support for renovation of the aging playground. The last renovations on the Pedestrian Mall Playground were more than 20 years ago

“It’s always been hard for me to hear that something in our infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life,” Taylor said. “But this Ped Mall playground has certainly had a very useful life. Every time I walk by there it’s being used and enjoyed by many children, my granddaughter included.”

While she was sad to see the current play structure go, Taylor said she was happy with certain aspects of the old playground, including shade, being incorporated into the new playground design.

“So I do hope that this playground can continue to be enjoyed by many more generations to come,” Taylor said.