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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Backers of a $117 million plan to bring recreation to downtown Des Moines say the rivers project would create a network of 80 water trails across central Iowa.

Rick Tollakson, president and CEO of Hubbell Realty Co. and one of the project’s biggest supporters, told The Des Moines Register that the project centerpiece would be a series of whitewater features that would replace three dangerous low-head dams along the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers.

Plans say the Center Street Dam would provide “a high energy adventure” and include a 16-foot drop. The Scott Avenue Dam would have intermediate-level rapids and include a calm water passage to improve river access for upstream aquatic life. And the Fleur Drive Dam would be designed for whitewater beginners and could include a wave feature for surfers.

The Des Moines business community is committed to underpin fundraising because recreational opportunities are the best way to attract and retain young workers, Tollakson said.

“There’s a limit on things we can do to make (Iowa) more inviting,” Tollakson said. “With water trails, we have the ability to do it.”

Representatives of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Great Outdoors Foundation, Polk County Conservation’s fundraising arm, have discussed the project with Iowa’s congressional members, hoping to secure a third of the cost through state and federal grants.

“We know it’s hard for Des Moines to compete as a vacation destination, but this definitely puts us on the map in a much bigger way than we are right now,” said Jay Byers, CEO, of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Des Moines and other central Iowa cities would also fund a third of the cost.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,