Gray’s Lake Plans for Upgrades

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Since, Gray’s Lake Park opened in 2001, it has been the busiest in the state. It welcomes almost three million visitors a year.

“The success has been off the charts,” Ben Page, director of Des Moines’ Parks and Recreation.

To put that in perspective, imagine if everyone in the metro went to the park over three times a year, that’s what it would take to get to the number.

When the Des Moines’ Park and Recreation Department lays out their long-term master plan Thursday you’ll notice most items are focused on maintaining that success.

“With the park being 15 years old, we know it’s time to plan for the future. We didn’t want to rest on our laurels,” said Page.

It’s not super flashy but the biggest item on the master plan will be how to keep up with the demand. Most items focus on general maintenance.

Page says when they started planning for the park they never thought it would be this busy. That means the park is going through wear and tear a lot faster than expected.

Trail up-keep and shore line repair will be the priority for the new plan but you can also expect to see a couple of bigger items presented.

A new pedestrian tunnel will be on the proposal Thursday. It would connect Gray’s Lake to water works park, in a more effective and safer way than the viaduct they have now.

Another big change coming will be the relocation and upgrading of the playground area.

“The playground is now 15 years old. It was built undersized because we had no idea how successful Gray’s Lake would be,” said Page. “We think there is a better spot for it. Right now it’s in a spot that floods first.”

Page estimates that the cost for the new set will run about $300,000 and it will be a while before it gets built. He goes on to say that it could be as short as two years but as long four years before a new park it built.

The public is encouraged to attend Thursday’s meeting tonight. It will be at the department’s office at 1551 E. Martin Luther King Drive from 5:30-7:00 p.m.
If the meeting goes well Thursday the plan will be present to City Council late next month for approval.


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