The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

September 10, 2013

Iowa City officials consider beach at City Park

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — After being inundated with sand along the Iowa River for a second time in five years because of floodwater, Iowa City officials are considering leaving the sand at City Park and creating a permanent beach.

"Every time we remove it, it's more work for us," said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Moran. "So maybe it makes more sense to do some other things. We're just looking into some options for that."

Iowa City spent nearly $105,000 to clean up the park after the 2008 flood, including removing sand that piled up along the banks of the river. The river also swamped a portion of the park for several weeks in June, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (http://icp-c.com/1d2YyCr ). That sand remains as city officials prepare the soil for reseeding.

Such a proposal could help the city with its goal of reclaiming the riverfront for recreational use while also mitigating future flooding.

"If we're going to have intermittent flooding, it's pretty costly to remove all that sand," said Clay Claussen, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission. "If we can leave it there and have it be a feature, I'd be very much in favor in recapturing as much of the natural land along the river as possible. Let nature do its work and stay out of the way."

The commission is expected to discuss the topic at a meeting Wednesday.

But before the issue can move forward, the city must first test the sand for contaminants and determine if a beach would stay in place despite river level fluctuations. It must also discuss the idea with federal and state officials. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the dam upstream at Coralville Lake, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulates the state's rivers.

Moran, who envisions a space where people can do suntanning or picnicking, said there's no timeframe on when a decision will be made on the beach proposal. City officials are still estimating the costs of this year's flood cleanup.

"We're not in any kind of hurry, so it won't move real fast," he said.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/

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