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Raccoon River Park Boathouse on Track to Open in June

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — West Des Moines residents soon won’t have to travel far to go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding. The Raccoon River Park boathouse is now less than two weeks away from being complete.

“People are still going to be surprised when they pull into Raccoon River Park that all of a sudden this popped up here within the last year,” Ryan Penning the Superintendent for Recreation for the city of West Des Moines said.

The city broke ground in August of 2019 and say by June 1st the boathouse will be complete.

On Monday night, the city council approved Canoe Sport Outfitters as the concessionaire. Also running the boathouse at Lake Ahquabi in Indianola, Canoe Sport Outfitters will be in charge of the rentals of all the non-motorized boat rentals and the concession stand.

Right now, Penning said Canoe Sport Outfitters is having issues getting in equipment from suppliers for this boathouse due to COVID-19, however the city still plans to have it officially open by mid-to-late June.

The boathouse cost $2.4 million and is primarily funded by the local option sales tax (LOSST) and an $83,000 grant by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“This is just going to be just another opportunity for people to come out to Raccoon River Park and to use this great facility. We have a lot of walkers, and joggers, and bicyclists already but this is just going to get a different market of people out here to use the water,” Penning said.

The city also created a portage on the south side of Blue Heron Lake so those out on the water can get over to the Raccoon River as well.

This is the first project set to finish in West Des Moines’ Five Waters Project. The other projects include the Jamie Hurd amphitheater and new bridges, trails, and an effort to protect the greenway surrounding Raccoon River in West Des Moines. The Five Waters Project in total will cost the city $37 million.

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