Woodbury County’s smallest city making big changes to its city park

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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OTO, IA (KTIV) - The City of Oto is the smallest in Woodbury County but there are big changes in the works for the city’s park. Organizers are hoping to re-spark the city’s spirit, long damaged by railroad companies and the closure of the Post Office.

Oto’s City Park needs a little TLC. Its bathrooms no longer work, and it’s not ADA-accessible. It’s a little bit like the town, whose population has plummeted more than 25% in a decade, down to just 72 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We would like to do the restrooms, we’d like to do the sidewalks. We’d like to do some park benches so people can come and really relax,” said Deb Reynolds, the city’s part-time clerk, and Oto Days Committee organizer.

Those renovations have to start somewhere. The committee members KTIV spoke with in Oto say they plan to start with the bathrooms since they’ve been out of commission for a little while. Having running water again in the park will be a big change for the city.

“It’s just, I mean, really, pretty much everywhere just needs to be freshened up and reworked,” said Bob Reynolds, the city’s maintenance man.

In order to raise funds to rehab the park, the Oto Days Committee is hosting a breakfast on March 26, from 9 a.m. to noon. They believe renovations, including a bridge, park bench, free library and US flag, will run about $10,000.

“It’s kind of hard in a tiny town to figure out what might be beneficial,” said Deb Reynolds. “And realizing we didn’t have restrooms that was kind of the beginning. It’s like, ‘well, you know, maybe we could start with that.’”

The breakfast will be hosted at the Oto Ambulance Community Building. A free-will donation is requested.