Dec 20, 2021 - News

Des Moines to renegotiate payment of Fleur Drive underpass

A photo of an underpass in Des Moines.
Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Des Moines is facing a nearly $2 million bill to pay for the Fleur Drive underpass and the foundation that agreed to cover it doesn't have the cash, its director told Axios Friday.

Driving the news: The city will renegotiate its agreement with the Water Works Parks Foundation under a proposal that goes before the City Council today.

  • The foundation has paid $1.4 million but doesn't currently have sufficient funds to cover the rest.
  • The city proposes using a federal grant to forgive $540,000 of the tab.

Catch up fast: The project, completed last year, connects Water Works with the adjacent Gray's Lake via a pedestrian trail.

  • Water Works is among the largest urban parks in the nation, roughly twice the size of Central Park in New York City. There's been a longtime push to improve its development and turn it into a bigger attraction.
  • The foundation in 2018 launched construction of a $13 million improvement plan that includes playgrounds, public art and the Lauridsen Amphitheater.

State of play: The underpass provides the most direct link to Gray's Lake Park, which connects with downtown and attracts hundreds of thousands of annual visitors.

  • An agreement the foundation made with the city calls for it to pay almost all the underpass's $3.1 million costs plus $300K for maintenance.
  • Completed construction documents were filed in September, a step that calls for final payment to contractors.

What they're saying: The pandemic has made fundraising more challenging and cut into projected revenue from amphitheater events, foundation director Sam Carrell told us.

The bottom line: The Foundation is not reneging on its responsibilities. Fundraising is just taking a bit longer than was first anticipated, Carrell said.

  • Like what they've done for the park? Donate.
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