What Is the Water Trails Plan for Des Moines?

Posted by Rick Tollakson on Jul 25, 2016 11:00:00 AM
Rick Tollakson


Last year, I was honored to become the chair of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Steering Committee. Ever mindful of future generations, the committee’s mission is to cooperate across political boundaries, cultures, and recreational uses to accentuate and enhance the region’s water trails and greenways to realize their immense potential as a multifaceted centerpiece for a vibrant and dynamic region like Des Moines. 

Last month, the committee unveiled its draft plan for a 150-mile network of waterways and related amenities across central Iowa. The plan, which follows over a year of public input and research, provides for a wealth of trails, boating access points, fishing and wading areas, and recreational and business opportunities.

The released plan is an exciting start to one of the most impactful projects for central Iowa. We will continue to gather input from our various stakeholders as we begin to analyze and prioritize the various water trail projects.


The Dam Debate

Public input reflects a strong interest in dam mitigation in downtown Des Moines, and the consensus among committee members is that significant safety concerns demand it. In mitigating the dams, the plan provides for preservation of the historic nature of the balustrades lining the river, which echo the Beaux-Arts architectural motif found in downtown Des Moines buildings constructed during the early 20th century. The water’s edge will encourage natural habitats, and the channel will offer a full spectrum of experiences for visitors, including fishing and birding below dams.


The Vision

The new plan envisions the water trails and greenways of Greater Des Moines as a natural haven with a healthy ecosystem as well as an appealing recreational destination, economic driver, and community space. The committee’s goal is to make the area safely available to people of all ages, abilities, interests, incomes, and cultures, enabling the entire community to interact more closely with our beautiful environment. The current plan calls for 23 unpaved trails, 15 fishing areas, 18 wading areas, 14 activity hubs, and 13 points of access for carried watercraft.

The plan would bring new life to downtown Des Moines, enriching an area that is already a highly visible hub of business and attractions like the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Simon Estes Amphitheatre, the Science Center of Iowa, and the Brenton Skating Plaza.


Why Is Hubbell Realty Involved?

For over 160 years, Hubbell has been a catalyst for growth in central Iowa. F.M. Hubbell made his first land purchase less than a year after arriving in Des Moines at the age of 16. He went on to purchase and develop many more properties as well as organize the city’s first streetcar company, form Equitable Life Insurance Company, invest in railroads, and create the Des Moines Water Works. Hubbell Realty Company prides itself on continuing F.M. Hubbell’s dedication to enterprises that enhance the growth and quality of life of in Des Moines.


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Image: Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Steering Committee


Topics: Trends in Development, Hubbell Realty, downtown living