DES MOINES, Iowa — Trail closures due to flooding at Gray`s Lake are certainly not new. Jen Fletcher, Des Moines Parks and Recreation Marketing Supervisor agreed and said, “Unfortunately our team has become accustomed to flooding. In fact, we are kind of good at it.”
However, the destruction from a mid-march flood was unusual. “This has been probably some of the worst damage Gray’s Lake has seen in ten or fifteen years. It’s going to be interesting the next few days as our team really gets in there, gets things cleaned up and we will see what we have to deal with,” Fletcher said.
Ice damaged the lake and docs and made the beloved trail surrounding them crumble. Fletcher said, “There have been layers of the trail that have been destroyed. There are holes in the roads and trails that have been caused because of the water and the ice moving around so this is a whole new ballgame.”
Mother nature’s wicked game is also changing outdoor exercise routines for many, including Derek Barnhouse training for the Drake Road Races Half Marathon. He said, “I have to be a little creative. Work around some of my normal spots so I’ve been in the city a little bit more but that is not my preferred route.”
The newly added shoreline restoration prevented things from getting worse. “That really did what it was supposed to do. It kept the water in the river versus breaching and getting in the lake. The design worked. It held and we are really pleased at how well it worked,” Fletcher said.
Despite obvious closure barricades the parks and recreation department says they are being treated as obstacles and ignored. On Thursday six extra-large signs were added to help curb the problem. Fletcher said, “The more people that are in the park when they are not supposed to be, the longer it takes for us to get it cleaned up, to get it ready so we really do want the public to stay out of the park.”
If trail users are patient, the wait may not be too much longer. “Fingers crossed, we will open up the park next week,” said Fletcher.