4.8 Waterloo

  • Cedar Bend Park
  • Waterloo Boathouse
  • Waterloo Marina
  • Waterloo Whitewater Course
  • Pioneer Park
  • Riverview Recreation Area
  • Sherwood Park
  • Cedar Terrace Park
  • Ranchero Road
  • Hope Martin Park

Cedar Bend Park

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: 165
Launch Type: Boat ramp
Next segment skill level: Beginner
Next segment classification: Gateway
Distance to next access: 1.5 miles

Cedar Bend Park is a large open space which functions mainly as a river access. The park is situated along the Cedar Valley Lakes Trail and faces Sans Souci Island across the river. Given the close proximity of the park to the Waterloo Boathouse and the dam in downtown Waterloo, it is not commonly used by paddlers as a put-in or a take-out. Instead, the access is often used by people with flat-bottom boats, i.e. Jon boats. 

The existing parking area at Cedar Bend Park is expansive with ample room for dozens of vehicles with trailers. While this is typically beneficial, excessive parking can also mean additional maintenance. The boat ramp at Cedar Bend Park also has a narrow dock extending perpendicularly into the river. This dock effectively divides the boat ramp in half. The City plans to raise the center dock to make it visible and usable when the bladder dam is inflated and also remove the large boulder near the ramp. These changes should improve access for small watercraft. Work on these improvements is anticipated in winter 2019 and therefore is not included in the following cost estimate. 

Public Comments

Two written comments were received regarding Cedar Bend Park

  • “Consider putting money into Cedar Bend boat launch or Sherwood Park boat launch – docks to get people on and off boats.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Please look at opening the ramp at Cedar Bend.” – Waterloo Resident

Site Recommendations

The most profound recommendation for Cedar Bend Park is the reduction of the total parking area. The smaller sized parking area is still expected to have adequate capacity for boaters at this location. Like other accesses, two parking islands are recommended to improve circulation and define parking spaces. The planned parking area includes 10 stalls for pull-through trailer parking, including one accessible stall with an adjacent 10’ x 10’ staging area. By reducing the total parking area, a total of 11,000 square feet of land can be reclaimed and planted with pollinator plantings to treat parking lot runoff. Wooden bollards are also recommended to further define the parking area and to limit the amount of land impacted by automobiles. 

Cost Estimate

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Waterloo Boathouse

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access Number: 163 (possibly update to 163A)
Launch Type: Boat ramp
Next segment skill level: Advanced, portage (currently), multiple skill levels (planned)
Next segment classification: Challenge, portage (currently) Gateway (planned)
Distance to next access: 2.6 miles (currently), 0.5 (planned)

The Waterloo Boathouse is situated in Exchange Park and is the premier boating destination in the City of Waterloo. The access includes a double-wide boat ramp, two docks parallel to the river, and one dock perpendicular to the river. The Boathouse houses rowing equipment belonging to the Waterloo Rowing Club, and it is a popular launch point for rowers and motorized boaters. Paddlers often take-out at this location, as it is currently the last river access on the Cedar River before the downtown Waterloo dam. 

Many improvements have been made to the Waterloo Boathouse in recent years.  The City secured REAP funding in 2016 for recreational trail extensions, an overlook, a patio, and lighting around the Boathouse. Both parking lots were also reconstructed and striped to improve circulation. 

Because the City has recently completed several improvements to the Waterloo Boathouse, no additional recommendations are included in this document. Several recommendations were made by the public, however, as shown in the following section. 

Public Comments

Eight written comments were received regarding the Waterloo Boathouse:

  • “Install cameras at the Waterloo boathouse trailer parking lot.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Floating docks could be replaced.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Lack of adequate parking for full size trucks at Exchange/Boathouse ramp” – Waterloo resident 
  • “As a member of the Waterloo Rowing Club we attach the floating (temp) docks to the posts on land to stabilize them. Periodically the straps have been stolen. This could be a safety concern to the general public.” – Cedar Falls resident 
  • “Parking situation at boathouse isn’t very friendly for longer trucks and trailers… The docks in front of the boathouse are really handy for loading and unloading from pontoon. Could use some cleats to clean the tie-up.” – Waterloo resident 
  • “Fresh water by the Boathouse would be nice as it is usually our stopping point… I would like to use the boathouse as a bar/grill restaurant. It would make a great way to end the trip.” – Waterloo resident 
  • “Wood floating docks by the boathouse in Waterloo get a lot of kayak use as well as crew rowing because they are low in the water and usually don’t have power boats. These docks could use some upgrades to decking and floats.” – Hudson resident 
  • “There needs to be another dock at the Boathouse. Either just above the boat rowing dock or farther upstream. Need to make sure it has cleats to tie up to load people on.” – Waterloo resident 

Site Recommendations

The master site plan for the Waterloo Boathouse was last revised in July 2016. Since then, all improvements shown have been completed or are near completion. Some variances exist between the site plan and the existing grounds, but the plan by-in-large accurately reflects the improvements made to the site. The Waterloo Boathouse now directly ties into the Cedar Valley Lakes Trail and other amenities at Exchange Park. Bicycle parking and trash receptacles are also now available at the Boathouse.


Waterloo Marina

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: None (possibly define as 163B)
Launch type: Carry-down only (planned)
Next segment skill level: Advanced, portage (currently), multiple skill levels (planned)
Next segment classification: Challenge, portage (currently), Gateway (planned)
Distance to next access: 2.1 miles (currently), 0.4 (planned)

The Waterloo Marina is a planned mixed-use development which is expected to include apartments, a paddler-oriented retail space, and a river access with amenities for paddlers. The site is situated in the far western part of downtown Waterloo, and would become the final access before the dam hazard approximately 2,000 feet downriver. The site is also situated along the South Riverside Trail which connects the Cedar Valley SportsPlex and the Grand Crossing Apartments a few blocks away. 

Currently, the site sits undeveloped as an open parking area. The parcel is owned by Cedar Valley Tech Works Inc., which has redeveloped a former John Deere industrial site nearby. 

Due to the scale and private-public nature of this development, the Water Trails Master Plan does not attempt to identify every cost associated with developing the Waterloo Marina. However, the Marina development is supported by the Master Plan, and it will serve as a premier destination for paddlers completing their trips along the Gateway section of the Cedar River Water Trail. 

Public Comments

One respondent indicated they would like drinking water available at the Waterloo Marina. 

Also, as shown in Figure 3-13, several comments were received regarding river improvements in downtown areas. Many respondents indicated they want improved accesses, access signage, and a place to secure their boats. Additional suggestions by the public included the following: 

  • Plaza with tables 
  • Shaded areas 
  • Seating and viewing areas 
  • Riverside restaurants 
  • Patio bar that serves drinks and food 
  • Signage to restrooms, shelters, and drinking water 
  • Information kiosk showing river accesses and destinations 
  • Trash and recycling containers 

Site Recommendations

Planned improvements at the Waterloo Marina site include a new dock area with concrete kayak launch, 10-foot-wide paved walkways with a staircase and accessible ramp to the Marina building, street trees, and colored concrete. The docking area will be designed to allow for the future installation of a kayak launch system, similar to the example shown below. 

In addition to the access improvements, the Marina itself is expected to include a paddler-oriented retail store and residential apartment units. The site may also include a restaurant either in the Marina building or in a separate building nearby.  An outdoor patio bar would give paddlers a chance to cool off and relax after a long trip. Additional improvements recommended for the Marina site include an informational kiosk, outdoor seating area, bike racks or lockers, signage, trash and recycling bins, and public art.   

The City is also considering improvements for motorized boaters. The proposed docking system could also be outfitted to accommodate transient docking for pontoons and small motorized boats. In addition, a fueling distribution system has also been proposed to provide fuel for motorized boats docked at the marina. A fuel pump would need to be situated in the levee-protected area, however, so such a system would require a long hose or some other means to supply the fuel. 

Cost Estimate

The following table includes preliminary costs for select improvements at the Waterloo Marina site. The cost estimate does not include the costs of the Marina building or specific improvements to the grounds such as patio pavers, signage, and bike racks. 

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Waterloo Whitewater Course

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: None (possibly define as 163C or 162A) 
Launch type: Carry-down only (planned) 
Next segment skill level: Advanced (currently), Intermediate (planned) 
Next segment classification: Recreational 
Distance to next access: 1.5 miles (currently), 0.3 miles (planned) 

Planning for a whitewater course in downtown Waterloo began in 2015, though discussions about a whitewater course began several years prior. The planned course would be integrated with the existing bladder dam, completed in 2012, to create a series of drop features along the eastern side of the Cedar River. These drop features would create a fish ladder to enable fish passage through the course. 

The existing dam was originally designed so that the eastern segment can be retrofitted with whitewater improvements. The prosed whitewater course would also utilize existing bridge piers as part of the design.

Currently, a portage route exists for paddlers to circumvent the downtown dams.  The route is nearly 2,000 feet long and crosses three busy streets downtown. Even more challenging, however, is the steep staircase at the end of the route which has a slope greater than 16 percent. 

Public Comments

Four written comments were received regarding downtown Waterloo:

  • “Open floodwalls to improve river access and add whitewater course.” – Waterloo resident 
  • “[Add] ramp below lower dam on east side” – Jesup resident 
  • “Access to Cedar River Downtown Waterloo. Levee blocks access.” – Waterloo resident 
  • “Improved river access in downtown Waterloo” – Cedar Falls resident 

In addition, two residents indicated they would like restrooms and drinking water in downtown Waterloo. 

Site Recommendations

Proposed improvements for Waterloo’s whitewater course include five drop structures, shoreline improvements, an improved take-out between East 4th and East 5th Streets, and a concrete walkway along the river’s edge. 

Cost estimates for this project have risen from $2.6 million to $6.5 million over the course of the project development. One of the major costs associated with the project involves mitigating the safety hazard at the inflatable dam. Stone can be installed in-river along the entire length of the dam to eliminate the recirculation effect, thereby reducing the risk of drownings. Another significant expense would involve removal of the lower dam near the 6th Street Bridge. Due to the high costs associated with this project, a timeline for completion has yet to be identified. 


Pioneer Park

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access Number: 163 (possibly define as 162 or 162B)
Launch type: Carry-down only (planned)
Next segment skill level: Intermediate
Next segment classification: Recreational
Distance to next access: 1.2 miles

A new carry-down access is proposed along the Cedar Valley Lakes Trail less than a half-mile from downtown Waterloo. This access would become the first official access downstream of the dams downtown.   

Six cottonwood trees tower over the proposed access area. There is some concern that the trees may be situated too close to the levee, which could prompt the Army Corps of Engineers to call for their removal. However, the Water Trails Master Plan supports leaving the trees in place. Every effort to preserve the trees should be exercised as the project is developed.   

Water Street is an unpaved road situated along the back side of the levee. Parking is allowed on the roadway, and it can serve as the formal parking area for this river access. In general, the area surrounding Pioneer Park is relatively industrial, and Water Street resembles an alley or parking lot more-so than a street. Aesthetic improvements such as trees, plantings, and public art could soften this otherwise gritty area. 

Public Comments

There were no comments regarding Pioneer Park. 

Site Recommendations

The most profound improvement recommended for Pioneer Park is a series of tiered limestone blocks which will provide access to the river for paddlers. In addition, a paved trail is planned from the top of the levee to the back side of the levee where parking is available. Vegetation and other aesthetic improvements are encouraged, but costs are not identified in this plan.

Cost Estimate

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Riverview Recreation Area

Shown during a higher river level

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access Number: 161
Launch type: Boat ramp
Next segment skill level: Beginner
Next segment classification: Recreational
Distance to next access: 2.6 miles

Riverview Recreation Area is the first existing river access downstream of the Waterloo dams for both motorists and paddlers. The river access is directly north of the city’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) park, a popular destination for riding dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The access is also a short distance from the Riverview Recreation Area Trail, an extension of the South Riverside Trail.

The river access at Riverview Recreation Area is particularly popular with tubers. Tubers are known to float down to the existing accesses in Evansdale and Gilbertville.  

The park includes pit toilets and a shelter near the park entrance. The river access parking lot is an open area with a sealcoat surface.  

Public Comments

There were no comments regarding Riverview Recreation Area.

Site Recommendations

Recommendations for Riverview Recreation Area are modest. Primarily, the Master Plan recommends reconfiguring the open parking area using two parking islands to define parking spaces and improve circulation. The redefined parking area includes seven stalls for pull-through trailer parking, including one accessible stall with an adjacent 10’ x 10’ staging area. Pollinator plantings are recommended at the parking islands, and the City should also consider planting two shade trees to soften the landscape and provide shade in the open area.  

Cost Estimate

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Sherwood Park

Jurisdiction: Black Hawk County (ramp and parking), City of Waterloo (grounds)
Access number: None (possibly define as 167)
Launch type: Boat ramp
Next segment skill level: Beginner
Next segment classification: Gateway
Distance to next access: 1.8 miles

Sherwood Park is located within the city limits of Waterloo and is easily accessible off the U.S. Highway 218 exit at Greenhill Road.  The park itself is relatively new, and the City received a REAP grant from the Iowa DNR in 2014 for its construction.  The boat ramp area is upstream from Sherwood Park, approximately 1,000 feet past the park entrance.  While the City manages the park itself, the County Conservation Board maintains the boat ramp and the river access parking area.

The existing parking area at the river access is actually two separate parking areas connected by a short dirt drive.  River users may find the parking areas uncomfortable after dark due to their isolated location.  Installation of lighting fixtures would help address this.  The two parking areas could be combined, which presents an opportunity to redefine the space and improve the flow for vehicle traffic.

Public Comments

Four written comments and one verbal comment were received regarding Sherwood Park:

  • “Add 10 or 15 feet of concrete to the Sherwood park boat ramp.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Patrol the ramp by Greenhill Rd.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Putting in a dock at Sherwood would be helpful.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Consider putting money into Cedar Bend boat launch or Sherwood Park boat launch – docks to get people on and off boats.” – Waterloo resident
  • I would like to see boat docks between Waterloo and Cedar Falls such as at Sherwood Park to allow for pontoon boat docking.  It would be nice to have more than one dock.  Currently there’s only one at the Boathouse.  This would make it possible for one person to get to their vehicle. – Waterloo resident, by phone

In addition, one respondent indicated they would like restrooms and drinking water at Sherwood Park.

Site Recommendations

Recommendations for the Sherwood Park river access area include notable changes to the existing parking areas.  The recommendations include combining the two parking areas into one, and using parking islands to define the new spaces.  Removal of five trees and some understory vegetation will be required to accomplish this.  The planned parking area includes seven parking stalls for pull-through trailer parking, including one accessible stall with an adjacent 10’ x 10’ staging area.  Two tie-down lanes are also planned for motorized boaters.  The existing wooden bollards which define the existing driveway can remain as-is.

In addition to the recommendations shown above, multiple survey respondents suggested adding a boat dock at Sherwood Park.  The location of Sherwood Park is ideal for a new dock, as it is roughly equidistant between downtown Cedar Falls and downtown Waterloo.  Because of the variety of possible designs and engineering considerations involved with installing a dock, an estimated cost is not included in this document.  However, the Water Trails Master Plan supports the construction of a boat dock at this site.  A new dock would serve residents of Waterloo and Cedar Falls living near Rainbow Drive, Greenhill Road, and University Avenue.

Cost Estimate

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Cedar Terrace Park

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: 158
Launch type: Carry-down only (planned)
Next segment skill level: Beginner
Next segment classification: Recreational
Distance to next access: 6.5 miles (currently), 0.7 miles (planned)

The existing river access called “Cedar Terrace Park” is actually about one-quarter mile west of the park, and it is situated between two single-family homes.   

Cedar Terrace Park itself is a large open area with playground equipment, water fountains, and picnic tables. Sometimes vehicle tracks can be seen from the parking lot to the river’s edge. A new parking area could be built in this area to create a new river access closer to the river. Existing trees behind the homes along Belle Street create a partial screen between the houses and the park. 

Existing river access on Belle Street

Unlike every other river access in Waterloo, the Cedar Terrace Park access is not situated along a paved recreational trail. The closest paved trail is the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, which is situated about a half-mile east. The former rail-trail is not directly accessible from the Cedar Terrace neighborhood, and the closest trailhead is 1.7 miles away. There is potential for a trail spur to connect Cedar Terrace Park and the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, though this would require significant cooperation with the affected landowners.  

Public Comments

There were no comments regarding Cedar Terrace Park. 

Site Recommendations

Recommendations for the Cedar Terrace Park River access are based on the premise of closing the existing river access on Belle Street and moving it to the park itself.  Recommendations include extending the granular-surfaced driveway further into Cedar Terrace Park to create a parking area closer to the river. Wooden posts or rock barriers should be situated along the driveway to prevent motorists from driving onto the grassy area. 

To minimize disruption of the environment, a carry-down access is recommended with a short walking path to the river. As shown, the new parking area provides for 25 standard parking stalls, including one accessible stall with an adjacent 10’ x 10’ staging area. Unlike other carry-down accesses, this parking area would allow for vehicles with trailers. A 5,200 square foot filter strip is also planned in order to treat runoff from the parking lot. 

Discussions with neighborhood residents should take place before constructing the proposed improvements. Two properties would see noticeable changes to their existing view of the park. 

Cost Estimate

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Ranchero Road

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: 8
Launch type: Carry-down only
Next segment skill level: Intermediate
Next segment classification: Wilderness
Distance to next access: 5.4 miles

The Ranchero Road access is a small triangular shaped park immediately north of Ranchero Road, west of State Highway 63. The land on which the access is situated is owned and maintained by the City of Waterloo and is part of the greater 1,100-acre Katoski Greenbelt. There are no defined parking spaces in the access and maneuvering a vehicle can be challenging when others are present, however, there are two additional parking lots about 1,000 feet from the access. The Cedar Prairie Pedestrian Trial, Black Hawk Creek, and an unnamed drainage channel fragment the parcel upon which the access is situated. The walking trail to the access can become muddy and hard to navigate after wet weather. Proximity to the Cedar Prairie Pedestrian Trail, which passes directly through the access area, making this an ideal access for pedal paddle opportunities. 

Public Comments

One written comment was received regarding the Ranchero Road access area:

  • “[There’s] trash dumping at kayak access on Ranchero.” – Waterloo resident

In addition, three residents indicated they would like drinking water, and one indicated they would like restrooms at the Ranchero Road access area.

Site Recommendations

Recommendations for the Ranchero Road Access would aim to preserve its Wilderness classification. A granular parking area is recommended to include an area for trailer parking as well as the addition of a staging area and bike rack or locker next to the existing access area, pedestrian trail, and launch. Included in the recommendation for the Ranchero Road Access parking area is an ADA accessible parking stall with its own staging area. Large rocks or wood bollards are recommended along the perimeter of the parking area with a 70’ by 10’ buffer of pollinator plantings separating the parking area from Ranchero Road.

Cost Estimate

Signage



Hope Martin Park

Jurisdiction: City of Waterloo
Access number: 2
Launch type: Carry-down only
Next segment skill level: Intermediate
Next segment classification: Recreational
Distance to next access: 1.8 miles

Hope Martin Park is located within the city limits of Waterloo and is easily accessible from U.S. Highway 63 by way of Fletcher Avenue. The 150-acre park boasts the greatest number of amenities of any access along Black Hawk Creek, including play equipment, a picnic shelter, water fountains, restrooms, picnic tables, and an open grassy area.  The Singing Bird Lakes lie adjacent to Black Hawk Creek in the north-western corner of Hope Martin Park and provide another opportunity for fishing, bird watching, and relaxation. Hope Martin Park was mentioned numerous times by members of the public during the public input meetings. Because of its open space and proximity to surrounding neighborhoods, the access at Hope Martin Park presents an ideal location for visible improvements and promotional amenities such as signage, public art, and infrastructure. 

Public Comments

Four written comments were received regarding Hope Martin Park:

  • “Hope Martin Park slab is being undercut by current.” – Hudson resident
  • “Difficult to access water (ramp slope) at Hope Martin Park” – Waterloo resident
  • “Hope Martin Park ramp is close to awful.” – Waterloo resident
  • “Hope Park access could be larger/easier to access.” – Waterloo resident

In addition, one respondent indicated they would like drinking water, one indicated they would like restrooms, and one indicated there are maintenance issues at Hope Martin Park.

Site Recommendations

Recommendations for parking improvements at the Hope Martin Park Access include a granular surface road and parking area with up to 20 full size parking spaces, trailer parking, and a roundabout for improved traffic circulation. The center of the roundabout could offer opportunities for the inclusion of native plantings and filtration from vehicle runoff. A staging area and trail to access the launch are also recommended to improve navigating the sandy soil and steep slope leading to the launch. Wood or rock bollards are recommended to define the border of the granular surface road and parking area.  

The Hope Martin Park Access would benefit from shoreline improvements as the existing launch has been observed to be subject to undercutting and erosion. 

Cost Estimate

Signage