DES MOINES, Iowa -- The City of Des Moines' economic development office says it has a plan to turn one of the city's oldest eyesores into something new.
The Dico Incorporated Superfund site near Martin Luther King Parkway and Fleur Drive has sat empty for years. On Monday, consultants recommended the city build a new police department headquarters there. City staffers say the location is prime real estate with other developments and proposals in the works nearby.
The need for a new police department has been one the city has considered for years. The current century-old building is too small for units to do their work. Officers say lack of space has forced the department into seven other smaller buildings. The $160 million proposed new headquarters would take care of that issue by tripling the size of the current building.
“We have put band aids on. We've had small expansions,” says Captain David Ness. “We’ve got people working in closets. We’ve moved multiple groups out of the department as we’ve been squeezed over the years.”
Economic development coordinator Rita Conner says acquiring the land will be the first and biggest hurdle. The property is the former site of a manufacturing plant where chemical leaks contaminated the land.
"Superfund sites are developed everyday because there are a unique set of circumstances, but there is a ground water treatment system that is place," she says. "As we start to think about putting buildings in place and footings, we are trying to learn strategically how much material do we need to pull out or bring in new."
Conner is confident the proposal will turn into a reality, but says it's important to keep the vision alive for the property.
"The landscape that you see today isn’t going to be the landscape forever."
The proposal will be brought before the city council for approval at its December 4th meeting. If approved, Conner would like to see the buildings on the site demolished by the end of the year. She says the completion of the project could take between two and five years.