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  • Wed December 26 2012
  • Posted Dec 26, 2012

A proposal to build open-air pavilions in Ankeny could serve as a trailhead for two popular central Iowa recreational trails, attracting bikers, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts to the Polk County community.

Several community groups have a vision to build an Ankeny Market and Pavilion that would serve as home to the city’s growing farmers’ market, an events location and a trailhead.

Two large open-air pavilions are proposed for the project, spearheaded by the Rotary Club of Ankeny, the city of Ankeny, the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce and the Uptown Ankeny Association.

The market and pavilions would be located just south of West First Street, and the area would also serve as a trailhead for the High Trestle Trail with connections to the Gay Lea Wilson and Neal Smith Trail systems, said Connie Johnson of the Ankeny Park Board.

“With trail connections both north and south out of the city, we will be a natural hub for riders,” Johnson said.

The pavilion would be a perk for cyclists in central Iowa — especially if people can get there via trails, said Greg Rasmussen, owner of Rasmussen Bike Shop in West Des Moines.

“Anything they can do to boost those trail systems is going to be great,” Rasmussen said.

The goal is to raise $1.5 million for the project. Nearly all of that money will come from donations, grants and in-kind services. If funding and donations come in as planned, the project would be completed in 2014.

Ankeny Councilman Wade Steenhoek anticipates only a minimal amount of taxpayer money will be used. The City Council gave $50,000 of hotel/motel tax money to the Ankeny Miracle League field and all-inclusive playground, and Steenhoek expects a similar contribution will be approved for this project.

“This is a great example of a public/private partnership that’s being led by private organizations,” Steenhoek said. “It’s a great collaboration.”

The market and pavilion will create a meeting place for residents, and it creates a great space for new visitors to the community, backers said. It is estimated to add $3.1 million to the local economy annually. More than $200,000 has already been pledged to the project, and Steenhoek is confident the goal will be met.

“I think the community takes tremendous pride in these types of amenities and they’re willing to put their time and money behind it,” Steenhoek said.

Hundreds of people use the trail system to access the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, and Ankeny could expect that same boost in traffic with their project, said Jen Fletcher of Des Moines Park and Recreation.

While Fletcher was not familiar with the details of Ankeny’s market and pavilion, she said it would be an asset to the metro trail system.

“We’re pro trail — anything positive that would drive people to use the trail we’re for,” Fletcher said.

Anything that connects communities is good for the entire metro area, said Ed Veak, owner of Beaverdale Bicycles in Des Moines. The Ankeny project will give people a new travel destination.

“It allows them to get outside their normal tromping grounds,” Veak said.

Veak cited the recently voter-approved Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond as a call for more recreational amenities. Voters gave the county permission to borrow up to $50 million for those types of projects.

“I think that’s a good reflection that people are willing to support that sort of thing,” Veak said.


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