Tuesday, January 30, 2018

University of Iowa graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning are working to develop an adaptation plan for Iowa City’s largest park. Their project is for the course, “Environmental Policy and Management” which is team-taught by Professor Lucie Laurian and Assistant Professor Scott Spak.  The plan will include concepts to expand the park’s use and enhance its resiliency.

There are five first-year urban planning students, as well as one PhD student in English and one in History working on the plan. They will be considering use for approximately 50 acres of currently underutilized land adjacent to the developed areas of Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in southern Iowa City, adjacent to the Iowa River. The adaptation plan will consider recent and projected future changes in recreational, environmental, and economic trends.

The scope of the adaptation plan includes a mostly wooded area of the park and both banks of the Iowa River along the Iowa River Trail, north to the Riverfront Crossings Park and bordered on the south and east by the current recreation area. The City is interested in increasing riverfront use by the public, not just at the park but throughout the city. Both the City of Iowa City and the University of Iowa are committed to working together to find ways to take advantage of the river and the amenities along its banks. The students’ adaptation plan is a cooperative way for the city and university to reach that goal.

There is currently no plan in place that addresses the future use and management of this site. An adaptation plan responds to changes in local conditions and external factors. The students will develop a plan that takes a broad view of the many factors related to the land, including the historical significance of early users of the land, recreation, plants and wildlife, hydrology, flooding, and recent observed changes in climate.

The planning students’ project is part of the University’s semester theme, “Climate for Change.” This valuable experience allows the graduate students to put into practice what they have learned in class about environmental planning and management and apply it to a real-world situation. No similar plan exists in the state and when completed the student’s work will serve as a template for other natural areas bordering rivers.

A recent article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette is viewable here.  

Photo by Cliff Jette of The Gazette.
Pictured left to right are Zac Hall, Iowa City Parks Superintendent and URP alum; Juli Seydell Johnson, Iowa City Director of Parks and Recreation; Professor Lucie Laurian; Mariah Kauder; Jasmine Frias; Gia DeBartolo; Luke Foelsch; Kevin Englebert.