Axios Des Moines

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πŸͺ Hi, Wednesday.

β˜€οΈ Weather: Sunny with a high of 43Β°.

Situational awareness: Iowa DNR staff is asking the public for help after two young trees were illegally chopped down for firewood at Big Creek State Park around March 15.

  • Those trees included a memorial planted by a longtime volunteer for his late son.
  • People with information can contact [email protected].

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 812 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Easter Lake project to open May 5

Rendering: Courtesy of Polk County Conservation

Polk County Conservation is opening one of the most "accessible parks in America" for people with disabilities at Easter Lake in May.

Why it matters: The Athene North Shore Recreation Area will be one of the country's few public waterfronts focused on accessible amenities for all, according to the county.

Driving the news: A grand opening scheduled for May 5 will include free equipment rentals all day, including fishing poles and kayaks.

How it started: In 2020, Polk County Conservation β€” which manages the county's recreation and conservation areas, conducted a feasibility study.

  • The study showed that while the county had accessible parks and playgrounds, no accessible water activities existed.
  • The group raised $8.4 million and focused the entire Easter Lake north shore redesign on accessibility, ranging from wider sidewalks to a concrete ramp into the lake for wheelchair users.

State of play: Other new amenities include accessible docks, boat launches and a wheelchair-accessible pontoon boat.

  • Restrooms are single-stall, and there are also adult-size changing tables.
  • People can rent accessible-specific equipment, including fishing poles, bikes, trikes, kayaks and a beach wheelchair.
  • There's a quiet wellness room, plus a building available for rent.

The big picture: Easter Lake was first listed as one of Iowa's impaired waters in 1998, due to silt from erosion caused by rapid home development in the 1990s.

  • But the county's multi-million-dollar investment has helped bring the area back to life.
  • They dredged and refilled the lake in 2019, installed new fish habitat and restored the surrounding woodland. Plus, Des Moines added a new connecting bike trail from downtown.

What's next: More upgrades are happening at the park's southside next year, including a new shelter house and updated bathrooms, Jessica Lown, spokesperson for Polk County Conservation, tells Axios.

The bottom line: "There really isn't anything like this in the country," Lown says.

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2. ⏱️ A downtown alley fight

East Village residents and businesses use this east-/west-running alley between the 400 and 500 block of East Grand Avenue and East Locust Street. Screenshot: Google maps

Parking restrictions in an alley in the East Village would have serious effects on Jimmy John's business, franchise owner Shahbaz Ahmed Merchant warned DSM City Council.

Why it matters: The sandwich shop's business is heavily dependent on delivery, and a proposed 10-minute limit is not enough time for its drivers waiting to pick up orders from the shop, Merchant said.

The other side: Multiple businesses depend on the alley in the 400 block of East Grand Avenue and East Locust Street for operations like trash or snow removal and access to other parking spots.

  • There's currently a 40-minute limit on loading there, and some owners have for years complained that it impedes access for too long.

Driving the news: City Council last week approved the first of three readings of an ordinance that would reduce that to 10 minutes.

What they're saying: Merchant said he'd be happy to lease dedicated street parking if the city could make that available.

  • He also said the proposed alley limit is not long enough for unloading delivery trucks.

Between the lines: DSM wouldn't reduce the limit if Jimmy John's officials had stepped up earlier and resolved the problem, Councilperson Joe Gatto said.

  • Councilperson Carl Voss, who lives in the East Village, said he believes the proposal is the best alternative and suggested some possible nearby parking solutions for food delivery drivers.

What's next: Further council consideration is expected during its April 1 meeting.

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3. The Ear: Catch up on the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ’΅ The Iowa Senate passed an amended AEA bill that splits special education funding, with 90% to AEAs and 10% to schools.

πŸ“š Des Moines Superintendent Ian Roberts is supporting McKenzie Snow to become Iowa Director of Education as her confirmation moves forward.

🎢 Broadway shows "Back to the Future: The Musical," "Shucked" and "Life of Pi" are coming to the Des Moines Civic Center next season.

  • "Hadestown" and "Hamilton" are also returning. (WHO-13)

Editor's note: The top item in this roundup has been corrected to reflect that 90% of special education funding would go to AEAs under the bill, not 10%.

4. The best thing Linh drank

Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Mayalu Coffee may be one of the few places in Des Moines where you can get a coffee with a side of samosas.

State of play: The Nepalese coffee shop serves all the traditional favorites like Americanos, espressos or lattes, but there are also more unique "house drinks" like coffee with masala β€” a cinnamon-spice blend.

What I drank: A turmeric latte β€” oat milk steamed with turmeric and ginger, mixed with a honey/jasmine syrup ($4.50 for 12 oz.).

What I liked: It's a simple, comforting, yellow-tinged drink with plenty of ginger flavor.

  • This won't give you a caffeine buzz to get going in the morning, but it's a good option for a slow, mindful wake-up.

Plus: The shop has a drive-thru, but inside there's floor seating where you're asked to take off your shoes and sit by a window that overlooks Fleur Drive.

  • If you want a snack, there are baked goods from ChaCha's Hiland Bakery.

If you go: 6am-5pm Mon.-Sat.; 7am-5pm Sun.

  • 4226 Fleur Dr., Des Moines
Floor seating near window
Floor seating in Mayalu. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

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πŸ‘‹ Namaste! (A common way of saying, "bye" in Nepal.)

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Lucia Maher.