Iowa City Trueblood Park on track for completion


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A one-time quarry used to mine sand and gravel on the far-South Side of Iowa City is being transformed into the city’s newest and largest park, complete with a lake, beach, marina, park lodges, 2-mile long recreational trail, piers, canoe landing, and fishing jetties.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation Director Mike Moran said the Terry Trueblood Recreational Area development is expected to wrap up and be fully functioning by June 1, 2013. The project remains on budget, and no cost overruns are anticipated.

“This park will be the city’s largest park and will enhance the recreational water use for the citizens of Iowa City,” he said. “We have had river recreation for quite some time. Now we will be able to add lakefront recreational activities.”

The Trueblood Recreational Area, known locally to many as “Sand Lake” because of its large sand dunes that dot the 95.5-acre lakefront, has quickly caught on in popularity since being acquired from S&J Materials in 2006.

Located on South Gilbert Street near McCollister Boulevard, its name is derived from the former Parks Director Terry Trueblood, the project’s main booster. It encompasses approximately 207 acres — the park has grown in size over the past six years, when the city of Iowa City purchased nearly 50 acres of prime riverfront property.

The roughly $6.4 million project, in collaboration with the engineering consulting firm, Snyder & Associates, is being completed in phases.

Phases 1 and 2 have been completed; they include an extensive, horseshoe-shaped walking trail, parking, and small shelters. The Phases 3 and 4 have been combined will include a lodge with large outdoor terrace for hosting indoor and outdoor events, small boat marina, concession areas, beach, bathhouse, and an array of other outdoor attractions.

Moran said the true centerpiece to the project will be the 150-person lodge, which is being built to be easily expandable to twice its size if necessary. He also said that the recreational trail is the final piece to the now-completed Iowa River Corridor system that connects the Coralville Reservoir to Trueblood.

“I think that the Iowa River has a negative stigma in the community, and anyway, to make that more accessible is really positive,” City High senior Renata Stewart said. “It seems like there is a lot of important improvements being made, and I don’t see it as a waste of money.”

Kirkwood Community College freshman Ashley Moeller has taken advantage of the preliminary features of the park, and she is excited about the project coming to a close.

“My family and I walk around the trail often, and I enjoy it because it’s so scenic,” she said. “Living on the West Side, it’s nice to have this option within an easy driving distance. It’ll bring so many options that aren’t available locally.”

With residential and public facility growth taking shape around the park, Johnson County Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director John Yapp said that future public uses have been determined. Most of the area north of the park will be used for public works and the new Iowa City Animal Shelter.

“In the future, the transit maintenance facility will also be located north of the park [in between Trueblood Park and Napoleon Park],” he wrote in an email. “The land south of the park is unincorporated, and predominantly floodplain.”

University of Iowa freshman Gregory Kordesh said he is excited to take advantage of the park’s natural features, including the opportunity to fish so close to campus.

“It sounds like when it’s finished, it will be designed from a natural space,” he said. “I think it’s valuable for university students as a way for them to get away from campus and for residents of Iowa City. From an environmentalist perspective, it’s a very good use of the space. It’s reusing a space effectively.”

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