• Thu September 25 2008
  • Posted Sep 25, 2008
Des Moines By LISA COLONNO Nearby neighborhood association proposes a user-friendly way to the popular lake through a business park. Julie Brenton has found several creative routes through businesses' parking lots and along chain-link fences to bike and walk from her south-side neighborhood to Gray's Lake. But Brenton, who lives in the Gray's Lake neighborhood, is pleased with the possibility of a more direct, user-friendly route that has been proposed. "That's why we named the neighborhood association Gray's Lake, because we want to get there," Brenton said. The neighborhood that is bounded by the Raccoon River to the north, Watrous Avenue to the south, Southwest Ninth Street to the east and Fleur Drive to the west does not have direct access to Gray's Lake. Residents and members of the recently formed Gray's Lake Neighborhood Association discussed an access proposal last week at their September meeting. They want to move forward on a potential route that could stretch north from Bell Avenue through a business park. Gray's Lake is "a prestigious, beautiful, wonderful park and yet the neighborhood that butts up next to it has a lot of difficulty being able to walk to it or ride your bike," said Maureen Myshock, chairwoman of the neighborhood association. Neighborhood leaders have met to discuss the proposal with representatives from the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department and city councilwoman Christine Hensley, who represents Des Moines' southwest ward. The neighborhood seeks an access point that would start with a crosswalk across Bell Avenue between Casady Drive and Druid Hill Drive and continue north to the lake alongside an existing ditch that runs through the parking lots of several businesses. The route would connect with a new trail currently under construction to the south of the lake. "It's the most direct and it's the least obtrusive to everybody," said Evan Shaw, co-chairman of the neighborhood association. "We don't want to disrupt the businesses and their parking and their needs. That just seemed like a good place to put it where it wouldn't be disruptive to them, where they would still get the benefits of it and the neighbors would get the benefits of it." Now the idea needs to be presented to the area's businesses. Wells Fargo and Baker Electric sit to the west of the proposed path and to the east, several businesses, including CDS Global, are housed in the Bell Avenue Business Center. Myshock stressed the importance of that next step. Without the businesses' support, the neighborhood will have to seek another route. She hopes the businesses also will see a benefit from the idea. The proposed route "can allow the businesses to have access to Gray's Lake around here during their lunch hour and allow our residents to have the ability to walk with their kids and bike and use that physical activity, and not congest the streets even more and the parking lots," Myshock said. Richard Brown, a planner with the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department, said more meetings with the neighborhood are needed to flush out the proposal and figure out details about cost, how to pay for it, what the access might look like and if businesses in the area would favor the plan. Since the property to the north of Bell Avenue is privately owned, some land might have to be purchased from the owners or an easement created to make the access possible, Brown said. Since the proposal is in its infancy, a timeline, cost or design are not yet available. "You can see Gray's Lake, but there is no way via sidewalk or other than road to get there," Brown said of the challenges faced by area residents who want to visit the area. "This early proposal comes from the neighborhood. What they would like to do is find a way to get to Gray's Lake without having to drive there." A new access point may bring more cars or people to the Gray's Lake neighborhood, but neighborhood representatives said an easy route for the area's residents to reach the lake would be worth the risk. "I would gladly accept the responsibility of trying to find out creative ideas to deal with the overflow of cars that might be coming here as opposed to not having something," Myshock said.

  • Source:
  • Author:
  • Posted By: