• Posted Oct 18, 2012

Would you vote for this on November 6th, 2012 if is cost you approx. $9 per year to fund park and trail improvements to the tune of $50 million spread out over 20 years?

BIKEIOWA NOTE: We are really interested to see what people think about this Bond. It takes 60% of the voters to make it pass... Sure it is an easy "YES" for us trails and parks users, but we are still a minority.. What do you think? How can we promote this more to the masses? Please leave Good/ Bad/Ugly comments below... If you are really interested in learning more, come to this event on Monday, Oct 22nd in the East Village in Des Moines.

What is the Polk County’s Water and Land Legacy Bond?

The Polk County Board of Supervisors unanimously referred a bond referendum to the November 6,
2012, ballot. Polk County’s Water and Land Legacy Bond will protect drinking water sources and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams, including the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers and their tributaries. The purpose of the bond also includes the protection of wildlife habitat, prevention of flooding, and the construction and improvement of trails and conservation facilities in Polk County.

This bond, not to exceed $50 million dollars, will cost the average household less than one dollar per month. Bonds will only be issued periodically as needed to complete projects which will result in a reduced cost to property owners. Expenditures will be subject to public review to assure that funds are used wisely and maximized to the public’s benefit. As with current Conservation Board funding, the bond funds would be leveraged with other communities and local agencies, continuing partnerships to enhance and protect the natural environment.

The question on the ballot will read as follows:

Shall the County of Polk, State of Iowa, issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding the aggregate amount of $50,000,000 (to be issued in one or more series) for the purpose of acquisition and development of land for public parks, or other recreation or conservation purposes to be managed by the Polk County Conservation Board, including protecting the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams, including the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers and their tributaries, protecting drinking water sources, wildlife habitat, and natural areas, prevention of flooding, and construction and improvement of trails and conservation facilities in Polk County?

Polk County is Growing

The growth of Polk County demands a need for parks, trails, and natural areas as identified in The Tomorrow Plan, Capitol Crossroads, and many other local and regional planning efforts. A $50 million bond referendum spread out over 20 years would fund acquisitions to protect sensitive areas, connect greenways, buffer parks, improve water quality and reduce flooding in Polk County. It would also enhance accessible outdoor recreation on, conservation, education, and complete trail connections that would connect communities and encourage healthy lifestyles.

What you could see 20 years from now...

  • Clean drinking water for your children and grandchildren
  • Improved water quality in our lakes, ponds, and streams
  • Abundant wildlife to view and enjoy
  • Connected communities by means of trails and greenways
  • Revitalized parks and amenities
  • Outdoor recreation and education opportunities for all ages and abilities
  • Active and healthy youth and adults
  • Adequate green space for future generations

Connect Our Trails

Polk County has played a vital role in the success of the Central Iowa Trails Network which links multiple communities and counties throughout the Des Moines metro area and beyond. A few key connections still remain that would help complete this extensive trails network.

  • A 2.5 mile segment of the Gay Lea Wilson Trail from 29th Avenue to Aurora Avenue would connect the Ankeny and Des Moines trail systems.

  • A recently acquired 5.5 mile Union Pacific rail corridor, now called the Chichaqua Valley Trail Connector, would serve as the link from Ankeny and Des Moines to Bondurant and Jasper County.

  • A 4.8 mile paved trail around Easter Lake and through Ewing Park would continue efforts towards connecting this popular park to downtown Des Moines and Carlisle.

All of these trails would encourage active living, enhance quality of life and environmental quality, create new opportunities for outdoor recreation, and provide safe
routes for commuters.

Partner organizations include the Cities of Des Moines, Ankeny,Bondurant, Carlisle, Jasper County and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

How much will this cost me/my family each year?

If all of the $50 million in bonds were issued next year it is estimated that the cost for an individual or household living within a $100,000 house would be approximately $9 per year or 75 cents per month based on current bond rates. Bonds will only be issued periodically as needed to complete projects which will result in a reduced cost to property owners. The cost will be reflected in an increase to the county property tax levy.

How many years will I pay this increased property tax?

The proposed bonding would allow for repayment of the bonds in 20 years or less. If the bonds are paid off prior to the 20 years the increase in property tax would end.

Will I see improvements in my community?

The proposed improvements to the county park and trail systems will serve most communities within Polk County. The protect on and enhancements of the rivers, lakes and streams within Polk County will benefit all communities and users of these resources.

What types of projects will be funded?

The majority of the funds will go towards projects that help improve water quality, protect natural areas, enhance wildlife habitat, improve parks, complete trail connections, and provide environmental education opportunities for children and adults. Projects will be evaluated by the County Conservation Board and will be guided by existing comprehensive plans and park master plans that have received public feedback and support.

Will the funds be able to be used for other purposes?

No, bonding rules require that funds only be used for the purposes authorized in the measure which include improvements and land acquisition to protect water quality, conservation of natural areas, improving facilities for recreation and constructing trails. The funds would not be available for salaries or annual operations and maintenance expenses.

Who receives and implements the funding?

Polk County will issue the bonds and make the funds available to the Polk County Conservation Board for the proposed purposes. The Polk County Conservation Board will be charged with evaluating and selecting projects and spending the funds from the bonds.

How will they be held accountable?

All expenditures will be subject to public review. Proposed and completed projects will be available to the public on the Conservation Board’s website, at public meetings, and included as part of their annual report.


For more information about the Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond, visit

  • Author: ss
  • Posted By: ss
  • Modified: Oct 24, 2012 by ss



The former railroad bridge just south of Scott Street is in the process of being removed. It was apparently purchased by the City of DM in 2002 to be part of the trail system. What happened? Were any trail groups asked to comment on the removal of the bridge?

#3 - pmwm posted Oct 30, 2012

That section belongs to the State of Iowa according to the Polk County assessor website. I look for it at the DNR website, but I could not find it listed. Ask your State Rep. or Senator about why it has not been repaved yet.

#2 - dbpaul8 posted Oct 22, 2012

What about trail maintenance & resurfacing. With the increase in trails, maintanence costs will keep rising. The Neal Smith Trail north of the Inter Urban Trail to Sycamore Access needs to be redone.

#1 - MrPeske posted Oct 22, 2012

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