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Iowa City's Riverfront Crossings: From Flood Prone to Urban Renewal

PHOTO: Long after the record flooding of 2008 and more in years to follow, communities in Iowa continue to work on creating riverbank redevelopment that's more resilient and sustainable. Photo couresty: Coast Guard News
PHOTO: Long after the record flooding of 2008 and more in years to follow, communities in Iowa continue to work on creating riverbank redevelopment that's more resilient and sustainable. Photo couresty: Coast Guard News
January 13, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa - It may seem far off with the cold temperatures of today, but spring eventually will arrive, and along with it the threat of rising rivers. Record flooding across the state over the past five years has led to many changes along communities' waterways, including in Iowa City, where Karen Howard is an associate planner.

"And one of the biggest investment that the city is making, as far as the infrastructure goes in this area, is we're taking a waste-water treatment plant and tearing it down," she said. "It sits right on the Iowa Riverfront right now, and we're moving those functions to a new plant that we've built in south Iowa City."

The old treatment plant site will be replaced by a new riverfront park with a restored urban creek and wetlands.

All of the improvements are part of the Riverfront Crossings Master Plan, adopted earlier this year. Howard said the goal is to mitigate flooding and to leverage those improvements for a new urban neighborhood close to downtown job opportunities and the University of Iowa campus.

That's "so there's more walking, more biking opportunities, so people can live and don't have to drive their cars everywhere. So those two pieces together, both the more urban, walkable neighborhood that we're trying to create and the more resilient waterfront, is going to help really Iowa City move in the direction of creating more sustainable neighborhoods and riverfront."

To realize that vision, Howard said, some zoning regulations need to be amended. A public hearing on the changes is set for this Thursday at Iowa City City Hall.

Riverfront Crossings plan is at bit.ly/1e8aDbl.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA