The scene is a conference room at the Des Moines Water Works headquarters. The time is last week. Zac Voss holds court in front of about 30 business leaders, public employees and concerned citizens.
The 37-year-old Des Moines native makes his pitch: “I really believe we’re talking about the next big project in Des Moines.”
The project is a series of proposed improvements to the 1,500-acre Water Works Park, to the west of Fleur Drive. The park is already flush with bike and walking trails, waterways, an arboretum and other amenities. Voss leads a group of people who see the space becoming one of the great parks in America.
Plans call for an adventure park, a kayak course and an outdoor events venue that could hold up to 80,000 people. Proposals include a potential bridge or underpass linking Water Works Park with Gray’s Lake Park across the road and an educational component that would teach the public about clean water and even about improving the park’s primary purpose: filtering clean water that supplies more than 500,000 people in central Iowa.
The plans have percolated for three years. But now it’s time for action, which requires money. And the man who’s been tapped to help lead the charge to raise cash is Voss. At 23, the University of Iowa alumnus started his own company to distribute the popular Red Bull energy drink. Less than 15 years later, Voss’s company is the state’s largest distributor of the beverage statewide, delivering to nearly all of Iowa’s 99 counties as well as territories in neighboring states.
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