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Community discusses future plans of the South Iowa City district

BY GRACE PATERAS | OCTOBER 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Locals say that part of what makes South Iowa City unique is its affordability, proximity, diversity, and environment.

Those qualities attract more families to the area, but forthcoming development plans may make the area more coveted than residents and officials say it is now.

“I love the South Side of Iowa City,” said Jan Shields, an Iowa City resident who attended a workshop Monday evening regarding the future of South Iowa City. “I love the diversity and the closeness I have to everything around here. I’m very interested in plans the city has for the future.”

Shields joined around 100 other people at the South Iowa City Community Planning Workshop.

Iowa City’s Department of Neighborhood Planning and Development Services hosted the event with the purpose of planning new neighborhood developments as well as strengthening existing neighborhoods.

The meeting was held at Wood Elementary School, 1930 Lakeside Drive.

“Planning helps communities to envision their future and respond to change,” said John Yapp, the city’s development services coordinator.

The South District is one of 10 planning districts in Iowa City, and the area is unique to its residents.

Sarah Walz, of the city’s neighborhood planned services, organized the workshop.

“There are great housing opportunities for families and people of all ages,” she said. “There are lots of families and kids, and many parks, trails, and environmental areas.”

Shields agreed that South Iowa City provides a convenient environment to live in.

“I’ve walked downtown from where I live,” she said. “[But on this side, you can find] the doctor’s office, the dentist, a hardware store, dry cleaners, coffee shops, fitness. There is so much on this side.”

Wood Elementary Principal Joelle McConnaha is considering moving to South Iowa City.

“I’d like to see more of community within the area,” she said. “People tend to stay in their [neighborhoods]. I wish we had more park festivals on this side, like outdoor events such as a movie in the park.”

Walz said the community, like every district, is not perfect.

“There is a lack of street connectivity that cuts off from commercial areas,” she said. “The balance of housing opportunities is an issue, with the lack of management for some properties.”

Other concerns include creating a stronger neighborhood connection, and a better perception of the area from the outside.

Throughout the meeting, participants discussed among their tables positives and negatives of the community. They were encouraged to take notes on key points, so that after the meeting, the board will tally all feedback and decide what is priority.

“The challenge is to use neighborhoods to create better connectivity for bikes and for transits,” Walz said. “And for more opportunity for small commercial developments.”


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