Public offers input on Ottumwa Park ideas

·3 min read

May 18—OTTUMWA — A splash pad? Tunnels connecting the four leaves of the Greater Ottumwa Park clover?

It appears residents of the City of Ottumwa have an appetite that features something for everyone.

During an information session Wednesday at Bridge View Center, members of the public weighed in on what they would like to see as the city prepares to re-imagine the park. The city has hired Design Workshop to create the plan, which will likely be released in September when the firm returns to Ottumwa. Eventually, the construction documents will follow.

"We're very early in the process, but we want to make as much progress as fast as we can," said Kurt Culbertson, a Design Workshop planner who has spoken with various groups in Ottumwa about what they envision the parks to be. "Greater Ottumwa Park is really the jewel of the park system. It's really central to so much that happens in town."

As of Wednesday morning, the firm had 320 responses to its survey, asking residents specific questions about aspects of the park they'd like to see.

Inside the room, however, Design Workshop had two concepts visually mapped out. In both, the park was divided into four quadrants: Zone A (the current dog park area), Zone B (the Bridge View Center area), Zone C (Jimmy Jones Shelter area) and Zone D (Legion Memorial Field and other ballparks).

However, many in the first session of the meeting approved of Concept 1, which contains the following, and concentrates most recreational activities to zones A, B and D:

—In Zone A, the dog park stays, but parking is added, as well as a dozen soccer fields and a "flex" field for rugby, football and field hockey.

—Zone B would have a dozen tennis courts, pickleball and beach volleyball courts, and a lazy river as part of The Beach.

—Zone C would remove the Jimmy Jones Shelter, put in an amphitheater to seat up to 5,000, add two different farmer's market areas, have community and flower gardens as well as campground space.

—Zone D would build 14 ball fields surrounding Legion Field, added parking in segments along Wapello Street inside the park, have a boating center and arboretum.

The other concept, Concept 2, would more evenly spread the recreational activities across the cloverleaf, and add two pedestrian bridges across East Oxbow Lake from Church Street and Richmond Avenue into the park.

Those who attended also were asked 17 questions in a real-time survey about the park, and one person stated tunnels connecting the different areas of the park would be ideal.

"We'd love to see that under the four-way intersection (Quincy and Highway 34). The (parts) of the park actually feel together," she said. "Then you're not worrying about whether you have to bike or walk across those busy streets."

As far as other improvement to the park, some wanted a miniature golf course, disc golf course, splash pad and a trampoline park.

However, almost everyone said a revamped park would offer "a great diversity of recreational offerings."

"We like to generate three schemes, and call it the 'Goldilocks' principle," Culbertson said. "You may see two options, one of them is too hot the other is too cold.

"When we come back in September, hopefully we'll find the one that's just right."

— Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury