The American Council of Engineering Companies awarded the Fort Des Moines Park Restoration with an Honor Award at its annual Engineering Excellence competition. The park was originally part of “Fort Des Moines,” established in 1903 on 640 acres of land near downtown Des Moines. A 14-acre lake is now the centerpiece of the widely used 117-acre urban park, which also features two heavily used picnic shelters, a children's playground, hiking trails, and an arboretum. It is the fourth highest-used park in the PCCB system with 120,000 visits in 2013.
Aging park infrastructure spurred a master plan in 2011, which recommended a number of significant improvements. The Polk County Conservation Board (PCCB), Iowa State University, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) partnered to improve water quality, sustainability, urban fishing, and recreational opportunities in Fort Des Moines Park.
Stanley Consultants was selected to design watershed improvements to the drainage ways feeding the lake, design and oversee a dredging plan as well as sediment disposal basins, and improve shoreline access and lake aesthetics.
The waterways were reshaped and lined with river rock and cobble stone. Sediment traps were designed into drainage ways to further prevent sediment from entering the lake. An infiltration basin was installed in one of the drainage ways to facilitate water recharge directly into the groundwater table. A substantial volume of sediment material was removed during lake dredging and was used to create a wetlands that will be used as an educational area for two neighboring schools.
The lake has been restocked and once fish reach the desired size and water reaches the desired level, angling will once again be permitted. The quality of the water has seen a marked improvement. Already a highly used urban park, Fort Des Moines Park is now well on its way to becoming a premier urban fishery.