Oct 7, 2022 - News

Des Moines Mountain bike park proposal faces opposition

A photo of a mountain bike

Photo: Matthew Lewis via Getty Images

A rezoning request to allow for a 50-acre mountain bike park on Des Moines' eastern border has met resistance from more than a dozen neighbors.

  • Enough responded in opposition to a city survey to require a supermajority approval β€” at least six of seven votes β€” by the city council later this month in order for the project to move forward.

Why it matters: The Copper Creek Mountain Bike Park could be an important boost for recreation in eastern Polk County, Supervisor Tom Hockensmith tells Axios.

Yes, but: Some of the points made by opponents are about issues that could affect the wider community.

  • Destruction of wildlife habitat and exacerbated flood risks are among their concerns.

Plus: Neighbors have for years battled with dumping or other illegal activities in some sections of the proposed park area.

  • Multiple opponents fear the park could make some of those problems worse, according to written opposition submitted to DSM zoning officials.

The other side: The park would help alleviate many of the ongoing problems because the area will have better lighting and oversight, Jessica Lown, an outreach supervisor for the conservation department, told Axios.

  • Wildlife habitat and water quality improvements are planned. The proposed bike trails do not pose an increased risk for flooding, conservation officials said in information provided to nearby residents.

Catch up fast: The area is undeveloped and multiple attempts to build on parts of the site by previous owners have failed, largely because of its rough terrain.

  • Much of the area has in recent years been zoned by DSM as a floodplain. Polk County is asking for it to be rezoned to allow for the park.

State of play: Polk County Conservation last year purchased the land β€” which connects to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail just off East University Avenue β€” for $300K and announced plans for the park.

  • More than half of the $2.2 million needed for the project has been raised, Lown tells Axios

Details: The proposal is for a 4 mile, soft-surface trail system optimized for mountain bikes and fat tire winter biking.

  • A new trailhead, parking lot and restrooms are included in the plan.

Of note: The Central Iowa Trail Association has partnered with Polk County on the project and is seeking donations.

What's next: A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24.

A photo of a bike trail.
Illegal dumping regularly takes place within feet of this hub along Gay Lea Wilson Trail, 1601 Williams St. in DSM. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
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