top of page

March 2020

Welcome to the first issue of Let's Catch Up!

One of my responsibilities as your at-large council member is to keep you In The Know about important and interesting happenings in our community. In this and forthcoming issues, you’ll learn about people making a difference, neighborhood developments, ongoing Public Works projects, and more.

If you have information about something going on in our city—or want to learn about something you’re not seeing in the media—contact I’ll do my dangdest to get you a timely answer. And why not share this newsletter with a neighbor, so they can be kept In the know about what’s happening in our community.


Here’s just a sampling of issues council members expect to vote on at upcoming meetings:

*FY 20-21 budget - $920.7 million Operational Budget; $213.5 million Capital Improvements Project (CIP) Budget is a three-fold increase from $72 million in FY 2017 to $206 million in FY 2020. In the next seven years, Des Moines plans to invest $427 million in the CIP budget.

*Ordinance for short-term housing (Airbnb and similar)

*Revisions to city’s Chapter 62 (including a rewritten ban of racial profiling and rewriting illegal practices), law enforcement data collection RFP, and Policy and Practice Review Committee.

*Hope Ministries application for a center for Women and Children at former Douglas Elementary School.

At a special February 12 meeting, the council approved $30 million in 12-year municipal bonds at an incredible 1.38% interest rate. This fabulous low rate will save more than $4 million in projected fees.

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS Here's a list of committee and board assignments (assigned by Mayor Cownie): Invest DSM, Central Iowa Water Trails Board, Blank Park Zoo Foundation, Homeless Coordinating Council, Krause Soccer Concept, and City Personnel Committee. *All council members also serve on Polk County Emergency Management team.


The Slow Down: A New Coffee Shop Brewing in Highland Park

Drew Kelso, former president of the Highland Park-Oak Park Neighborhood, is stepping up his neighborhood involvement this year. In another month, he will leave his full-time job at Principal Financial to run a new coffee shop on Sixth Avenue and serve as executive director of the Parks Area Foundation. The Highland Park-Oak Park development includes the soon-to-open Riverview Park redevelopment and a Variety Star Playground.

Highland Park-Oak Park is one of the four targeted Des Moines neighborhoods that will shortly get an infusion of attention and funding via InvestDSM, a new private and public venture of the City of Des Moines and the Polk County Supervisors. The other neighborhoods are Beaverdale-Waveland Park, Drake Park, and Columbus Park.

‘What’s Your Favorite Restaurant?’

Chelsea Lepley, president of the Union Park Neighborhood Association, opens each meeting with a terrific “get to know your neighbors” tactic: Introduce yourself and answer a new question of the month.

Chelsea’s question this month: “What’s your favorite restaurant?” For the curious, Thai Flavors was the leading vote-getter for the evening.


What To Know About . . .

Residents aren’t shy to inquire about street, storm water, and trail projects around Des Moines. Check these and other projects for yourself with this easy-to-navigate map. Click on a project and retrieve updated information, including links to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget, contractor name, and City Engineering staff contact. Here’s a sampling:

Scott Avenue Bridge. Closes in April for rehabilitation; reopening in 2021.

Locust Street Bridge Across the Des Moines River. Think late summer for completion of this $10.6 million bridge replacement.

Hubbell Avenue. Several sections of this $10 million have reopened; expect fall 2020 completion.

New Trail to Easter Lake. The current schedule reads July completion for the 2.2-mile section under construction. When linked to an existing segment (Mullet’s to SE 22nd Street), the new 10-foot-wide trail will be 3.6 miles long. The Mark C. Ackelson Trail around Easter Lake is 4.1 miles long, making this a terrific destination. The name of this trail escapes me.

Fifth Street Bridge Across the Raccoon River (also known as the Green or Jackson Street Bridge). No work this year, but in 2021, the levees on both Raccoon banks will be raised about 12 inches. (Yes, expect a major detour with closed trails.) Dedication of the rehabilitated bridge is now pushed back to 2022.

Fleur sidewalks along Wakonda Club. Work scheduled to begin after the Principal Charity wraps up May 31. The sidewalk construction pales to the larger project: replacement of the south-bound lanes (Bell Avenue to Watrous).

First Street Bridge Across the Raccoon River (between Principal Park and Mullet’s): opening scheduled before April 14, the first home game for the Iowa Cubs. Nearly wrapped up: Remaining tasks include handrails and lights. EVENTS

IOWA CUBS - APRIL 14th, 2020 Good seats still available for the home opener!

I-Cubs vs. San Antonio Missions. First pitch: 6:38 pm on Tuesday, April 14.

Opening game National Anthem info: Put a stopwatch on Susan Voss, my favorite mezzo soprano. Susan should clock in right about 50 seconds—just the Francis Scott Key notes as he wrote them.


Sign of Spring #1: Potholes

While there’s no official season opener for potholes…

…they seem to be everywhere. Already.

Here’s the best way to help to get the potholes on the patch list for Public Works:

*Download the myDSMmobile app (Android or iPhone version)

*Select the appropriate Service Request (more about that later) *Set the location

*Using your smartphone, photograph the pothole or street issue (the photo automatically records longitude and latitude)


You’ll get an acknowledgement of your ticket and will be informed when the ticket is closed.

In a brutal winter, Public Works normally logs about 3,500 potholes. In 2019, Public Works logged more than 10,000 reported potholes. Yes, plenty of work to do.

But wait, there’s more! The same myDSMmobile works for other reporting street light outages, trash or recycling missed, graffiti—17 services in all. Don’t overlook the value of using myDSMmobile for other service requests. REPORTS

Sign of Spring #2 DM Parks & Recreation Annual Report

The Parks and Recreation full-tine staff of 53 manages 75 parks, over 4,000 acres of parkland, 82 miles of trails, seven cemeteries, and multiple recreational facilities. Here’s an overview of the previous year’s accomplishments:

  • 1,916 shelters and facility rentals 

  • 2,170 dog park permits sold 

  • 2,969 individuals learned to swim

  • 5,173 volunteers donated 32,079 hours of service, valued at $815,261

  • 96,313 visits to one of our five pools/aquatic centers

  • Golfers played 80,734 rounds at A.H. Blank, Bright Grandview, and Waveland Golf courses

Nation’s Largest Skatepark To Open This Year

When the Lauridsen Skatepark is completed, it will be the nation’s largest skatepark—right here in downtown Des Moines. Contractors completed the initial site grading, site utilities, and the majority of the retaining walls in late 2019. The retaining wall work has continued throughout the winter and is ongoing. Just over 20% of the construction work is now complete. California Skateparks will oversee the remaining project details of the park with 88,000 square feet of skate-able terrain—the really fun stuff! April 1 is the tentative start date, with completion and dedication scheduled for September or October (Mother Nature will have a say).

June or July, the WOW skate-able public art should be completed—about 80 feet long and 12 feet high. More than $6.1 million has been raised for this project. When completed Des Moines Conservation Board will manage the facility. Stay tuned.

Got feedback? Contact me at:

456 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page