UI graduate students look to make Iowa City park more sustainable

The University of Iowa graduate students say their plan is the nation's first city-park adaption plan.

Graduate students from the University of Iowa are helping lead Iowa City in improving a city park—using only the natural habitat as inspiration. They’re asking city leaders to consider the idea, which would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Instead of just making the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area better for families, their plan will make it more sustainable for everyone—including the wildlife. These students presented their plan to city leaders, who were impressed by how little these improvements would cost the city.

"It's not too expensive actually to do this,” said Jasmine Frias, one of the graduate students who helped make this plan.

She says one of the challenges in developing the plan was making it cost-effective.

"Not putting in park benches or sod or picnic tables or things like that,” said Frias.

The plan includes making areas at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area more accessible, growing edible plants, and having natural defenses for climate change conditions.

"Plant more species there that are suitable that are more suistable for flooding or increased heat,” said Frias.

Students heavily emphasized this part of the plan on Wednesday, a move appreciated by city leaders.

"Whatever is installed there you have to expect that it's going to be flooded and might be affected by the water,” said Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton.

Other additions include adding a few signs explaining historical facts, as well as pacing a paved walk near the river.

"That's not a cheap thing to do., We have to figure out how to get it in our budget,” said Mayor Throgmorton.

While some parts of the plan may be started earlier than others, students are hopeful that it will end with the park being something people around can be more proud of.

"Trying to make that just as much as our identity as the downtown is,” said Frias.

Mayor Throgmorton tells CBS2 News he thinks the city will act incrementally on the plan and that they’re already looking into steps they can possibly take.

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