Part of Great Western Trail in West Des Moines Could be Moved

The Great Western Trail at Willow Creek Golf Course in West Des Moines on Friday, September 5, 2014. (REID CHANDLER/WHO-HD)

The Great Western Trail at Willow Creek Golf Course in West Des Moines on Friday, September 5, 2014. (REID CHANDLER/WHO-HD)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – The West Des Moines City Council is expected to vote Monday on whether to hire an engineering firm to assess if part of the Great Western Trail running through Willow Creek Golf Course can be moved to its perimeter.

The request to have the trail moved from the golf course comes from owner Dan Clark, who said golfers on the course and bikers on the trail don’t mix well. Further changes to the trail would require action by the West Des Moines council and Polk County Conservation. Willow Creek Golf Course would also have input and a public hearing would have to be held.

About a mile of the trail goes through the middle of the Willow Creek property.

The request comes after Clark negotiated the sale of his land to Microsoft. The company is using the purchased land for its $1.1 billion data center. Currently, the company owns $6 million-worth of land that was once part of the golf course.

“The construction itself to re-locate the trail wouldn’t be difficult to do,” said Duane Wittstock, City Engineer of West Des Moines.

Wittstock said it’s the cost of the construction plan, as well as input from the public, that could potentially lead to a denial of moving the trail. The cost will be determined after city council approves the hiring of an engineering firm Monday to conduct a study of the trail move. Even if it does move forward, Wittstock says the project wouldn’t take place any time soon.

“We’re focusing on the construction project of Microsoft over there for 2015, and making sure the construction doesn’t affect traffic along those roads,” he said.

Any project to move the trail is estimated to take place in 2016, if approved.

The Great Western Trail opened in 1992 and stretches a total of 16.5 miles. Officials say at least 32,000 people used the trail last year.

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