DES MOINES, Iowa — These are good times for Des Moines Parks and Rec Director, Ben Page. The guy is finding new places for the city to play, and taking care of the old ones.

At Monday’s Des Moines City Council meeting, city leaders approved the final donations for the upcoming Reichardt Family Recreation Center on the city’s north side.

It’ll replace the old Grubb YMCA and feature the Patty and Jim Cownie Courts and Gymnasium, the Ruan Foundation Track, and many other amenities.

Big donations from Prairie Meadows, Fred and Charlotte Hubbell, and the Principal Financial Foundation filled in the final $6 million of private funding. Add in $12 million from the city and the $18 million project is now paid for.

“I think it’s one of those parts of our city that hasn’t seen a lot of investment in a long time,” Page said. “I think that people see that there is a need there.”

City leaders are impressed at how steadily the funding came together.

“The cliché of the public/private partnership but we’re seeing that come to fruition,” shrugged Ward 4 councilman, Josh Mandelbaum. “We’ve raised the dollars, the city’s kicked in, we got a ton of feedback from the neighbors and we’re gonna build something that our community will be proud of for years to come.”

Page says construction should begin early next year and be completed by early 2026.

“It feels really good. We can now deliver what the community asked us for which is a full $18 million building.”

It will be located on the site of the old Grubb YMCA at 11th Street and College Avenue.

Meanwhile, to the south, the city gave authorization to proceed with the acquisition of the necessary property to begin the first phase of the Central Place Levee Trail. This will run from the Lauridsen Skate Park all the way north to Prospect Park.

“It’s a part of our community that hasn’t had trail access EVER since the city’s been open for trails,” Page said. “And it’s an equity project, too. Most of those households have the highest degree of carless households, there, so people will use that trail not just to recreate but maybe to get to work or school.”    

Further south, Irving Stone Park on Southeast 5th Street will soon get a complete makeover. Among the new amenities headed there:

  • a mini pitch soccer court
  • a refurbished basketball court
  • a new playground
  • a new sprayground
  • new community gardens
  • a new open-air shelter
  • new pickleball courts

Page says this park (located next to the Pioneer Community Center) is long overdue for some upgrades.

“It’s got an old wading pool that’s not as fun as those spraygrounds; the playground’s seen better days back in the nineties, so again, great public process on that project—exactly what the neighborhood asked for.”

Improvements there are expected to be complete by the end of 2024.