Capital Clicks

Polk voters approve $65 million for water, parks

By: - November 3, 2021 2:46 pm

Kayakers enjoy Blue Heron Lake at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

About 81% of voters supported the second Polk County Water & Land Legacy Bond on Tuesday, which will allow the county to borrow up to $65 million for parks, trails and water projects.

That exceeded the support for a similar referendum in 2012, when about 72% of the vote was “yes” for a $50 million measure.

The referendum needed a supermajority of at least 60% to pass.

The new money is expected to fund improvements to several creeks and rivers to make them more accessible for canoeing, kayaking and tubing. The resulting tourism from the water trails is projected to net the Des Moines metro area’s economy about $30 million annually.

Other projects that are likely to benefit from the referendum are a new campground and other improvements to Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, the proposed Copper Creek Mountain Bike Park, recreational trails, water quality improvements, habitat restorations and repairs to the Trestle Trail Bridge in Johnston, among others.

The average county homeowner will pay an extra $11 in property taxes each year to repay the borrowed money over the course of 12 years.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.