Terra Lake Park: Transforming a Brownfield Site
The Terra Lake Park project transformed a decommissioned sanitary sewage lagoon into an eight-acre lake and regional community park. Beginning in 2005, this project was a collaborative effort between the City of Johnston and Snyder & Associates. Core project goals included:
- Creating an eight-acre recreational lake with a consistent pool elevation
- Native species protection and enhancement
- Investigate soil conditions for safety
- Stock the lake with fish
- Create a regional park
- Establish the park as a regional trailhead
- Develop budget, phasing, and funding
Completed in late 2017, the park offers extensive amenities:
- A three-acre irrigated great lawn
- 220+ parking stalls
- Large picnic area and restroom shelter
- Civic shelter and amphitheater
- Lakeside shelter
- Fishing pier
- Cascade and stone crossing
- Nature-themed circular playground
- Multipurpose trail connections to regional trails located south and west of the park
Phased Construction & Key Project Challenges
Project construction occurred in five phases allowing similar construction activities to be put together into bid packages, reducing mobilization and project administration costs.
Phase 1 – Earthwork, lake construction, utilities, groundwater well
Phase 2 – Multi-use trails, soft trails, parking lots, bio-retention, and permeable paver areas
Phase 3 – Architectural elements (restroom shelter, lakeside shelter, civic shelter, stone crossings, and overlooks)
Phase 4 – Fishing pier
Phase 5 – Circular playground offering five different play experiences with ADA accessibility.
The conversion of a 15+ acre basin into an eight-acre lake required a sophisticated earthwork plan to harvest as much clay soils on-site as possible to construct the clay liner and utilize large amounts of sandy soils in open space areas.
The construction and routing of regional trail connections within wetland and floodplain areas required significant planning and permitting. Once on-site under real-life conditions such as rain, localized flooding, and hydric soils, trail alignments required creativity.
A Community & Regional Amenity
Master plan development occurred between 2006 and 2009. It involved public engagement and technical reviews to develop park concepts and plans.
A strong emphasis on fishing and fish habitat allowed us to work with the Iowa DNR and Polk County Conservation to attract regional recreational programming support and park interest. The connection of numerous multi-use trails to the park allows it to serve as a regional trailhead, which is a prominent park attraction.
The park will host an installment of Johnston’s annual Jazz in July concert series along with other live music, charity and community events.
Through reclamation of this former brownfield site, a community resource has been created, resulting in a higher quality of life for local residents and regional visitors.