Why remove some memorial trees in Water Works Park?
Construction for the first phase of Des Moines Water Works’ community-driven master plan for Water Works Park improvements begins in May 2018. During this 90-acre development project, 180 of the 1,100 memorial trees must be removed from the crabapple arboretum.
Much consideration was given to placement of the improvements and their impact, including flooding risk, traffic, and safety. Tree removal is necessary to safely connect Gray’s Lake Park with Water Works Park. The Park Foundation has worked with Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines to improve the existing design for a passageway under Fleur Drive originally planned in 2005. The passageway provides a much safer connection between the two parks, eliminating the interaction between heavy vehicular traffic and park visitors traveling between the two popular parks.
Unfortunately, it is not feasible for memorial crabapple trees to be replanted, and it is important to us that memorials continue to be honored respectfully. Des Moines Water Works and the Park Foundation are taking steps to for those directly affected:
- Des Moines Water Works will have a sapling available for pickup in the spring to plant at home or other site of the donor’s choice.
- The tree’s memorial tag is available for those who would like to keep it.
- We are constructing a memorial feature in the park that will include memorial names, and we are working with donors on the design now.
Des Moines Water Works notified memorial tree donors that tree removal will begin late March. If you did not receive a letter, it is very likely that your tree is not affected during construction for the first phase of Water Works Park improvements.
Trees are vital green infrastructure. The urban forest within the park’s 1,500 acres cleans our air and water while providing the shady, riparian habitat for wildlife and recreation. With support from Tree Des Moines, Des Moines Water Works’ 2016 assessment of the park’s trees laid a cornerstone for the Water Works Park advancement, detailing forestry health and the maintenance needs as the park is improved. We will continue to plant trees throughout the park to preserve our urban forest. However, flowering crabapples have a relatively short lifespan (30 – 40 years) and are not particularly flood resilient. Increased flooding necessitates utilizing heartier varieties that improve the canopy and tree diversity in the small portion of Water Works Park that is impacted.
In the coming months, park users can also expect a dedication of “The Wild,” a celebration of the over 1,400 acres of Water Works Park that will remain largely untouched. These areas will be enhanced with signage and virtual information tools that allow for more self-discovery and understanding the role Water Works Park plays in both clean water production and the many ecosystems contained within.
Indeed, we invite you to join us in celebrating the community support for the park’s master plan and the improvements ahead for recreation, education and conservation. You can learn more about the amphitheater, play areas and other features coming in 2018 and the connections between Gray’s Lake and Water Works Park expected in 2019.
It’s important to note that the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation, a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is leading the fundraising and enhanced programming in Water Works Park. Funds being raised to implement the master plan by the Foundation are from private sources and do not come from Des Moines Water Works ratepayers.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support.