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Past Projects

Witmer Park

Park Renovations

Witmer Park phase II was completed in 2022, boasting a new playground, shelter and restroom facility. These updates provided much-needed amenities for those enjoying the new floating fishing pier, shelters and looping path system. These facilities will allow park visitors to explore, play and relax, for as long as they’d like.

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LED Screen

Concert Venue and Playground

Thanks to funding from the Prairie Meadows Community Betterment Grant, park supporters and the City of DM, a new LED portable video screen will be added to the parks and rec tool kit! The latest LED technology makes it possible to view the screen during daylight which will positively impact several existing programs and events and open the door to new opportunities to engage the community through outdoor recreation. 

McRae Park

Park Renovations

MacRae Park was purchased by the city in 1897.  Renovations to the park began in 2017 and the final phase of improvements were completed in 2022.  We are grateful for the generous support of our many park stewards. Read More

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Riverview Park

Concert Venue and Playground

Riverview Park was a multi-phase renovation project that began in 2014 with a public-private partnership between the City of Des Moines and the Parks Area Foundation.  Riverview Park includes an outdoor concert stage, custom playground, donor/history plaza, walking loop, and historical lighting.

Woodland Cemetery Tours

Video History Tour with QR codes

Cemetery historian/researcher/educator and volunteer extraordinaire Archie Cook shared his vast wealth of knowledge about Woodland Cemetery during a 2 ½ hour walking tour. The stories told by the monuments and headstones combine to form the history of our city as it has passed through wars, epidemics, natural disasters as well as the normal course of birth, life, and death. Passing through the narrow drives of the cemetery, you’ll see stone etchings of the names of past residents who helped build Des Moines. Names like Savery, Kenworthy, Ingersoll, Hubbell, Kaplan, Perkins, Teachout, Fleur, Redhead, Polk, and Sherman, which are now part of everyday life in our streets, parks, schools, and buildings. We encourage you to visit Woodland Cemetery and check out the History Quest or watch the videos online at

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Jackson St Bridge

Bridge Renovation

The Jackson St Bridge (5th Street Bridge) was closed for safety reasons in 2013 — and slated for demolition — before a band of residents, local businesses and philanthropists formed the Friends of Jackson Bridge and raised $2.3 million to save it. The bridge reopened in the fall 2016 to pedestrians and cyclists. It is part of the Meredith Trail that connects Gray's Lake and downtown Des Moines. 

Woodland Cemetery Restoration

Monument Restoration

Woodland Cemetery holds memories and stories of 80,000 buried within this unique location. Over the years, dirt, lichens, mold, and mildew have taken a toll on the stones and some that are porous (sandstone and limestone) have broken them down. Maintenance of stones typically is the responsibility of the owner but in this cemetery, many of the families have moved away or are long since passed. A generous gift from the community is allowing staff, contractors, and volunteers to restore stones and protect the memories and history within this cemetery. The first phase of the project was lifting, straightening, and securing stones that have shifted over time. Then, volunteers and staff will worked together in small groups to clean the stones.

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E 911 Trail Markers

Updated trail signs with graphic identities

The Friends of Des Moines Parks, the Parks and Recreation Department, and Project 7, a local graphic design firm, have partnered up to create graphic identities for the City’s most iconic trail segments. These identities will help trail users better understand where they are on the city’s trail system by graphically representing trail segments throughout the system. Each identity will be placed on Emergency 911 signage which allows first responders to quickly navigate and find people who are in a distressed situations on the trail system. The signs will be placed every quarter mile to help inform trail users of where they are and create a sense of identity to the City of Des Moines Trail system. A preview of this signage is available on the Carl Voss Trail. Remaining trail signage is being installed May 2022.

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The Friends of Des Moines Parks is seeking local partners to help bring new and exciting types of outdoor recreation to Cohen Park near Downtown Des Moines. The proposed park amenities include 12-foot tall outdoor bouldering and climbing walls along with an interactive ball wall called Sutu. Your support will help provide unique recreation opportunities that typically require a gym membership or fee-for-use at a private organization - making their free, public use critical in the downtown urban core. More information about this exciting park renovation can be found HEREDonate

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Birdland Park 

The Birdland Park and Marina Master Plan calls for $54.4 million in construction improvements spread across 5 major project phases to implement the inclusive and visionary plan that was developed through the master planning process, then adopted by the Parks and Recreation Board on February 23, 2021, and City Council on March 22, 2021.  Read More   Donate

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Evelyn K. Davis Park serves over 6,000 neighbors and many more visitors with activities & wide range of amenities. The park is home to the Summer City Hoops League, Futsal Tournaments, Youth Programs, pick up games, open shelters, baseball field, inclusive playground  equipment, open space and a spray ground.  The basketball courts see heavy use throughout the year and have not been resurfaced since 2013.  The Friends are excited to support this much needed improvement! Read more HERE


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The Friends of Des Moines Parks is seeking local partners to help support and expand upon the newly planned North Side Community Recreation Center and Park located at the current Grubb YMCA and Brian Melton Field site. This project has just finished up with a comprehensive, inclusive, and transparent planning process including extensive community engagement to ensure an equitable process. The City of Des Moines has already committed $12 million towards the building and is hoping to raise much more to provide the best community recreation center possible. To learn more about the planning and engagement process, please visit the project page HERE.


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