116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — When the City of Iowa City solicits feedback online for improvements on one of their many neighborhood parks, 15 to 20 responses can typically be expected, said Parks and Recreation Director Juli Seydell Johnson.
Since opening the public survey for the new proposed play structure in the downtown Pedestrian Mall, the city has received 330 responses, Seydell Johnson said Monday morning.
“It’s definitely, definitely much higher than we would typically see,” she said. “I think that’s a really good thing.”
The city doesn’t track visitors to its more than 50 parks, natural areas and open spaces, so Seydell Johnson can’t say where the Ped Mall park ranks in terms of popularity. But, she said it’s unique in that it draws visitors from across the city because of it’s location downtown.
“I think it’s popular because this is a playground people take a lot of ownership of,” Seydell Johnson said. “It’s different from a neighborhood park. This is a gathering place for kind of the whole region.”
While the current playground’s rubber surfacing was replaced during 2014 and 2015, the structure is about 20 years old, Seydell Johnson said. The city can no longer find replacement parts for it, so the structure was moved up on the replacement list.
The concept — which includes a play tower, obstacle play equipment, a literary-themed display and other features — came from a steering committee consisting of Iowa City Downtown District and business representatives, library staff, parents and city staff. They worked with Confluence Design to create the concept, which also includes ample shade — a popular request, Seydell Johnson said.
Unlike other parks across the city, the Ped Mall park had to be designed with space limitations in mind. Seydell Johnson said fire lanes and utilities limit the footprint of the park, which in turn dictates how tall equipment can be. The result is a more accessible, ground-based layout. A similar ground-based structure has been installed at Wetherby Park in Iowa City and has been “a huge hit,” Seydell Johnson said.
The city is accepting feedback on the proposed $600,000 project through 5 p.m. May 3. The public input survey can be found at icgov.org/project/iowa-city-park-projects.
Seydell Johnson said the city hopes to have the new equipment installed by fall 2021 or spring 2022 at the latest.
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