Decision to restore Iowa City Happy Hollows Park’s ‘skinned’ infield tabled

The Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission will revisit the decision in a year during 2023 planning of the playground renovation at Happy Hollows Park.


Jerod Ringwald

Happy Hollow Park is seen in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

The Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission shelved plans to consider restoring Happy Hollows Park’s baseball field until 2024 on Wednesday.

The Happy Hollow Park baseball diamond, on 800 Brown St., was grassed over 2019. The commission reconsidered a skinned baseball infield because of pre-existing renovation projects for the park.

The park primarily hosts the Iowa City Parks and Recreation T-Ball program, Director of Iowa City Parks and Recreation Juli Seydell Johnson said at the meeting.

“Because it’d be a standalone field, it made it difficult to maintain the regular baseball field,” Seydell Johnson said. “It’s much easier to do as a grass field.”

Matt Eidahl, recreation superintendent Iowa City parks director of youth sports, said grass fields are preferred for safety reasons for T-ball games and practices.

This year’s T-ball Parks and Recreation program season ended July 12.

“Last summer the IC Parks and Rec had 144 youth ages 4-6 participate in T-ball. The program was held at Willow Creek, Mercer Park, and Happy Hollow,” Eidahl said.

Sarah Clark, an Iowa City resident in attendance, said it’s difficult to find baseball fields in the Iowa City area.

RELATED: Happy Hollow Park’s “skinned” infield converted to turfgrass

“The city’s regular occurrence as a way to calculate usage doesn’t capture the everyday use of the field. You will see a continued use of informal practice to organize organizations,” Clark said.

In a 2020 email to The Daily Iowan, Iowa City City Councilor John Thomas wrote that the community response to the field’s grassing was not positive.

In response to the discussion, a motion was set forth to table any further changes to the field until 2024.

“I think that decision best makes sense,” Brianna Wills, a member of the Parks and Recreation commission, said.

Happy Hollows Park is listed as a capital project on the city’s fiscal 2023 budget because of the proposed improvements to be made. Its estimated cost is $175,000 for the year 2024.

An update to the park’s facilities was scheduled in 2017 due to the playground equipment’s age and condition. The renovations are expected to last for 20 years upon completion.

Wills said it’s important to have a plan when renovating these parks.

“You go in there and do some kind of renovation and then a year later you renovate it again and you have to tear up the stuff you just renovated,” Wills said.