Every year, Parks and Recreation is involved in the planning, design and construction of many different types of projects in our parks and facilities.  We’ve partnered with other federal, state and local agencies as well as private neighborhood and community groups on projects such as 

  • Park master plans 
  • Park and median landscaping 
  • Park and recreation facility construction and renovation  
  • Storm water quality improvements 

Major Projects

Plans and Renovations for our parks and trails:

Parks, Playground, and Gardens Renovations

Improvements at Pinewood Bowl

With the increased programming (SMG produced concerts) at the Pinewood Bowl amphitheater in Pioneers Park over the last several years, the need to renovate support facilities, existing infrastructure and audience amenities has been emphasized.  A new backstage artists building has been constructed as the second of a three-phases project to make both backstage and front of house improvements.  This building replaced two smaller buildings (men’s/women’s dressing rooms) that were in poor condition and dysfunctional to performers and support staff.  The renovation of Pinewood Bowl is being funded by a multi-year grant from the Visitors Promotion Committee and the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

Energy Savings Performance Contract

Using an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) 4,000+ light fixtures/bulbs throughout Parks and Recreation facilities were converted to LED and several HVAC units and pool pumps were replaced with higher efficiency equipment to increase energy efficiencies and reduce utility costs.  Debt retirement for the financing associated with this project will be funded by the guaranteed savings from ongoing maintenance and operations.

Schroder Park Improvements: Completed spring 2020!

Approximately 0.6 acres of City property was sold to Mourning Hope for construction of their new facility.  In partnership with Mourning Hope and the Willard Community Center, the boundaries of Schroder Park have been reconfigured and a campus master plan for the three facilities has been developed that promotes programming for both Mourning Hope and Willard Community Center to extend into the park.  A new playground and two half basketball courts were constructed along with connecting walkways and a park entryway feature.  Park landscaping will be completed in the spring of 2020 and funding for the addition of a picnic shelter are being pursued.

Peterson Park Pickleball Courts: Completed spring 2020!

Through fundraising efforts of the Pickleball Lincoln Association and the Lincoln Parks Foundation, four additional courts dedicated to pickleball are being constructed in Peterson Park.  This will result in a total of ten courts at this location.  Design of the courts was completed in the summer of 2019 and construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020.

Rock Island-Jamaica North Trail Connector Bridge: Completed fall 2020!

A new bridge will span over the BNSF railroad tracks the run between Densmore Park and Wilderness Park to provide pedestrians safe passage and connect the Rock Island Trail and the Jamaica North Trail.  With funding support from the Railroad Transportation Safety District and the Great Plains Trails Network, design of the bridge was completed in the fall of 2019 and construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020.

Stonebridge Trail

Approximately 1.25 miles of new concrete commuter/recreational trail was constructed to connect existing trail along North 14th Street with the trail along Alvo Road.  This new segment of trail increases connectivity of the overall network and provides access to the Stonebridge neighborhood.  It also provides trail service for adjacent neighborhoods to elementary school at 14th and Alvo Road.

Playground Renovations:

The playground equipment in some parks have exceeded its industry standard anticipated life span. The playgrounds also do not meet current guidelines for safety and/or ADA accessibility standards. Renovation efforts included removal of the existing playground and the installation of new playground surfacing and equipment utilizing designs adapted to each park site for consideration for park usage, accessibility, and visibility and maintenance practices.


Trails Renovations

Tierra-Williamsburg/Southpointe Trail

The 2019 Stormwater Bond provided funding to repair five priority areas along the Tierra-Williamsburg and Southpointe trails between Tierra Park and SouthPointe Pavilion.  The work will include replacement of damaged concrete trail sections and bank stabilization between the trail and the adjacent drainage channel.  The work is anticipated to occur during late October through early December 2020.

10 Year Plan

As is done every two years, the Department’s 10-Year Facilities Plan was updated to guide preparation of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the next biennium.  The update involves review of all facilities for anticipated repair/replacement/renewal needs for existing infrastructure as well as identification of new recreation facilities to meet community growth and address evolving recreational interests.  The plan, available for viewing on the web site, encompasses all facilities managed by the Department including parks, trails, public trees, gardens, pools, recreation centers, and golf courses.  As with previous versions of the plan, the continuous need to repair and replace existing facilities and to make major renovations of aging infrastructure is prominent.  For facilities associated with the municipal golf program, the plan focuses repair and replacement needs with an emphasis on replacing aged irrigation systems over time.

In 2019 Plan identifies an annualized need for about $3M in funding to address repair, replacement and renewal projects anticipated over the next 10 years.  Currently, keno revenue and the proceeds from cell tower leases associated with park sites provide about $1.84 million annually to fund these types of projects.  This leaves a gap in funding that results in deferred maintenance and does not support the development of any new facilities beyond those neighborhood parks and trail funded by the collection of impact fees.



Master Plans

Cooper Park Renovation Master Plan:

coopermasterplan-updated2019.jpgCooper Park is Lincoln’s oldest public park. While many improvements: have been made to the park during its 150 year history, several of its current amenities are in need of repair/replacement/renewal. With input from representatives of the South Salt Creek Neighborhood and NeighborWorks, a park master plan was developed to guide future renovation efforts and phased park improvements intended to increase its usage as a neighborhood gathering space and outdoor recreational facility. While funding has been secured to move forward with several items identified in the plan, some of the more extensive items are envisioned to be completed over time as funding is identified. 
Download the Cooper Park Master Plan

Schroder Park Reconfiguration Master Plan:

Schroder Park is being reconfigured in conjunction with the renovation of the Willard Community Center and construction of the new Mourning Hope Grief Center, both located immediately adjacent to the park. A park master plan was developed to guide park improvements to serve the surrounding neighborhood and support uses associated with these adjacent facilities. Standard neighborhood park improvements identified in the plan will be constructed in 2019 while construction of additional park enhancements will be depend on the availability of future funding. 


Specialty Projects and Programs

Emerald Ash Borer Response and Recovery Plan

 The City Council adopted the Emerald Ash Borer Response and Recovery Plan for Lincoln in 2018 after the plan was reviewed and recommended by the Community Forestry Advisory Board. Visit the Community Forestry Page for more information. 

Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, is an invasive beetle that was introduced to the United States in the 1990’s. EAB infests and kills all varieties of ash trees. The area that is affected by has grown to include 28 states included Nebraska. EAB was identified in Lincoln in a trap in August 2018 and within a tree canopy in April 2019. 

The EAB response and recovery plan phases the removal of 14,000 public ash trees along streets and in parks and golf courses over a 15-year period. A diverse mix of new trees will be planted to replace these. Parks and Recreation Department staff are working with neighborhood groups, homeowners associations and individuals to plan removal of ash trees and replanting of replacement trees. Residents interested in discussing planning for removal and replacement of ash street trees are encouraged to phone the Parks and Recreation Department at (402) 441-7847. 

Some homeowners may wish to voluntarily treat ash street trees in their neighborhood. Residents may apply for a no-cost permit to treat a street tree by contacting the Parks and Recreation Department at (402) 441-7847. Ash street trees being considered for treatment should be in healthy condition and not located under overhead utility lines. The preferred method of treatment is trunk injection of an approved systemic insecticide by a licensed arborist. 

Prairie Corridor on Haines Branch 

The Prairie Corridor on Haines Branch is a tallgrass prairie passage and trail that will build on our nationally recognized trail and greenway system and will link two of Lincoln and Lancaster County’s premier environmental resource and education centers. It will follow the Haines Branch of Salt Creek from the Pioneers Park Nature Center, to the Conestoga Lake State Recreation Area, extend down through the Village of Denton and on to the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center. The Corridor will support economic development, build on Lincoln’s nationally recognized trail system, support environmental education and promote the enhancement and preservation of one of Nebraska’s most valuable resources–tallgrass prairie.

For more information about this project, visit