Mar 6, 2023 - News

Gray's Lake underpass could get a 29-year repayment plan

The tunnel under Fleur Drive that connects Gray's Lake and Water Works parks. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Des Moines Water Works Parks Foundation would have 29 years to pay its remaining balance of a Fleur Drive underpass project initially due in Sept. 2021, according to a proposal going before the City Council today.

Catch up fast: The underpass provides a direct link between Gray's Lake and Water Works parks, allowing recreational trail users to avoid crossing Fleur.

  • An agreement with the city calls for the nonprofit foundation to pay almost all the underpass's $3.1 million construction costs plus $300K for maintenance.

State of play: The city oversaw the project, paid contractors and requested the previously agreed reimbursement from the foundation in late 2021.

  • DSM Water Works Parks Foundation paid $1.4 million but then informed officials it had insufficient funds to pay the full amount, according to a council communication.

The latest: After months of negotiations, a payment plan is being proposed by city manager Scott Sanders.

  • The unresolved amount of nearly $2 million would be paid without interest in annual installments until 2052.

Yes, but: The city would forgive the final $540K balance, meaning the foundation's remaining portion would ultimately be around $1.4 million.

Flashback: Foundation director Sam Carrell told Axios in 2021 that the pandemic made fundraising more challenging, but that his group was not reneging on its commitment.

  • He did not respond to our requests for comment.

Of note: The foundation has raised millions of dollars for other Water Works Park projects, including playgrounds, art and the Lauridsen Amphitheater.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more