• Paige Godden
  • Wed December 21 2016
  • Posted Jan 5, 2017

The city of West Des Moines is going to have to strike a balance between property owners and bicyclists as it tries to extend Veterans Parkway, which could overlap with the Great Western Trail through northwest Warren County.

More than 100 people, both bikers and homeowners, showed up to a Warren County Conservation Board meeting Wednesday night, where West Des Moines officials presented four new options for the project. The conservation board holds the deed to the land the trail is on.

Before West Des Moines can move or reconstruct the trail, the Warren County Conservation Board would have to declare it no longer needs the land the trail sits on for parks use.

West Des Moines shared a possible route for the extension before the meeting, but bikers were upset the trail would be turned into a bike lane on a six-lane highway.

During Wednesday’s meeting, bikers complained the trail would be more dangerous next to a highway and said natural resources, such as the canopy of trees that now looms over the trail, would be cut down.

Duane Wittsock, West Des Moines’ engineer, presented other alternatives to the board and to the public at the meeting. The alternative routes leave the existing trail, but bisect some property owners’ land, which is what the city was trying to avoid.

Melynda DeCarlo, who owns land near the proposed extension route, said she prefers a plan that would keep the existing trail intact, and has Veteran’s Parkway running parallel to the trail route, but the two are not adjoined.

She said she is concerned about some of the proposed paths because the new road could run into her property, or the property her mother used to own right across the street. The home on that property is more than 100 years old, she said.

The trail expansion will be necessary once Microsoft opens its largest data center in the nation on 200 acres of land just south of the Dale Maffitt Reservoir, west of Interstate Highway 35.

A citizen at the meeting asked why Warren County Conservation would consider altering the intent of the land.


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