PARK PLAN: Ideas Unveiled For Water Works Park

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You won't find as many people on the trails in Water Works Park this time of year, but leaders want you to think about how you would like to use the park in the future. Wednesday night, the public gets a chance to see what's in the works for Water Works Park.

You can check out the master plan at an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Des Moines Art Center. Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe says, "This is a tremendous asset. 1500 acres in the middle of an urban environment that we all own, all have a stake in."

And, changes are in the works. Leaders raised about $200,000 in grants and donations to study and develop a master plan. Stowe says, "For several years now, two years, we've been working very intensely with a group out of Massachusetts and RDG, a local group, as well as ecological groups to look at alternatives."

The goal is to preserve the land and bring the park up to date, while connecting users with the park. Items include what to do with the aging bridge over the Raccoon River, How to better connect Water Works Park with Gray's Lake, and new ideas to help park users connect with the river. Stowe says, "A water course is an example that may take you from the ability to take a canoe or kayak or paddle board from western area of the park, all the way through the park to Fleur Drive area."

Another goal of the master plan is to simply educate the public about Water Works Park and its function. Stowe says, "Our educational theme is we make, produce and distribute drinking water in central Iowa. We do that through use of a rivering asset called the Raccoon River or the Des Moines River."

Stowe says the hope is people will learn where we get our drinking water and how what we do affects it. "And really the constraints and environmental issues in Iowa, what's happening on the environmental front in Iowa that degrades water quality, is going to be very important for us as we move forward."

As the master plan moves forward, users could start seeing some changes as early as this year. It depends on fundraising. A Water Works Park Foundation is being established to raise the funds for improvements and implement the plan.

You can learn more and share your thoughts on the Des Moines Water Works website and Facebook page.