• Tue June 30 2009
  • Posted Jun 29, 2009
Ankeny, IA A $250,000 state grant is being sought to help pay for a trail link that would connect the south side of Ankeny to Des Moines. The Gay Lea Wilson Trail extension, estimated at $2.9 million, would run 7.3 miles from the end of the interurban trail at Carney Marsh Nature Preserve to near Firestone. It would then go under Interstate Highway 35 and through the Crosswinds business park, head south and east, then follow the Four Mile Creek Greenbelt to near Aurora Avenue. Todd Redenius, Ankeny's parks and recreation director, said the extension will connect "major tourism and recreational destinations," such as Saylorville Lake, Mallys Weh-Weh Neh- Kee Park and downtown Des Moines. There would be 4.5 miles of trail in the Ankeny city limits and 2.8 miles in Polk County's jurisdiction, which is why the two entities are working together on the project. Ankeny's share of the cost is expected to be $1.6 million, with $1.3 million from Polk County. Ankeny and Polk County Conservation have already secured $477,500 in federal money for the project, according to documents provided to the Ankeny City Council. The $250,000 request will be submitted to the Iowa State Recreational Trails Program, and Redenius said officials expect to apply for more grants. "This project is an example of cooperation between government entities, as the City of Ankeny and Polk County are collaborating on funding, grant applications and trail maintenance," Redenius said. Construction time lines will depend on when money is lined up for the project, he said. Redenius said that connecting Ankeny to Des Moines by this route is an "urgent trail priority." Polk County Conservation Director Dennis Parker agreed. "It's very impressive when so many agencies come together to support complex projects such as trail development," Parker said. "We are happy to be a part of this collaboration. We continue to be amazed and delighted by the public's support and active usage of our trail system. Completion of this extension will add another vital segment to the overall metro trails network." Lisa Hein, program and planning director with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, said that the vision for this interconnecting trail system has been in place for years. "Now it's finally coming to fruition. It's really tremendous to see some of these regional trail connections come together, so that we can link our communities and rural areas with trails throughout the metro area," Hein said.

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