Cedar River Recreational Project

The Cedar River Recreational Project presents a major transformation for both the City of Cedar Falls and the Cedar River Valley. It will connect residents and visitors to the river, improve safety and accessibility for all, enhance aquatic life and opportunities, plus provide family-friendly activities. The project is located between Main Street and First Street adjacent to downtown Cedar Falls and will connect Peter Melendy Park on the southside of the river with Gateway Park in the northside.

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River Art Plaza Drawing
Cedar River Color Layout Drawing

The project began in 2017 with the creation of the Riverfront Master Plan which identified opportunities to make the river a community asset and encourage people to come Downtown.  The Master Plan identified two phases of development with the Cedar River Recreation Project as the first step in implementing the Master Plan. The Cedar River Recreation Plan will reunite the community with the river. The project includes both in-stream and riverbank improvements.  The in-stream improvement includes a series of six jetties allowing multiple activities, such as waves for kayakers, canoers, and paddlers as well as providing fishing holes for anglers and places for habitat spawning.  In addition, the project will improve river safety in an area known as the ”Clay Hole” by removing broken concrete and steel rebar remnants of a low head dam. The stream bank improvements on both side of the river include boulder terraces that will provide stability to the riverbanks, improve access to the river, and provide places to sit and enjoy the activities. On the Gateway Park side will be the River Art Plaza, a place to learn about how the Cedar River was integral to the development of Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley and the River’s role in ecological and historic development of the watershed. On the southside of the river will be the “Turtle Back” landing where water enthusiasts can park their watercraft and walk Downtown.

To help achieve the vision of the Cedar River Project the City has successfully received grant awards from the Black Hawk County Gaming Commission, an Iowa Great Places Grant, an Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant, and most recently a Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration totaling $3.25 M.  

Construction of the project should begin in the Spring of 2023 and wrap up by the beginning of 2024.

In addition to the many grant awards received by the city, there is an opportunity for community members to donated to the project. The Cedar River Experience, a local group, are organizing to raise $500,000 in private funds to help fulfill vision of the project. Become a part of this project by going to www.cedarriverexperience.com to explore the options for supporting the project.

Click here for project updates from the City's Engineering Division

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