Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan

The Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan will be a long-range plan for improvements that enable multi-year planning for capital investments, provide updated level of service standards, inform the evolution of our recreation services, provide considerations for funding opportunities and ultimately inspire the next game changing elements of our park system.

All outcomes will align new investments with a strong community-driven mission and vision that integrates Des Moines’ pursuit of parks, recreation, the arts, and environmental education and further the goals established in GuideDSM .  The Comprehensive Plan will be supplemented with and Strategic Implementation Plan to guide the first 2-5 years following adoption.

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About The Plan

Our current park system is no accident. It is the result of thoughtful planning that articulates a shared vision of our parks, trails and natural resources, last captured in our 1995 comprehensive plan known as Parklands, A Celebration of Des Moines’ Community Spirit. This 20-year old document successfully guided our department and system through significant changes, contributing to Des Moines being recognized nationally as a special place to live, work, play and visit.  As a result of this effort, staples such as the Principal Riverwalk, our trail system and Gray's Lake Park came to be.


1. Community Engagment and Visioning
  • Task 1.1: Data Collection and Review
  • Task 1.2: Community Engagement Plan
  • Task 1.3: Mission Statement and Vision Statement
2. Inventory and Analysis
  • Task 2.1: Existing Conditions Review
  • Task 2.2: Benchmarking, Industry Standard, Trends
  • Task 2.3: Level of Service Standards
3. Parks and Public Spaces Plan
  • Task 3.1: Policy Guide
  • Task 3.2: Needs Recommendation
  • Task 3.3: Access and Connectivity Recommendations
  • Task 3.4: Green Infrastructure and Sustainability Guide
4. Recreation Programming Plan
  • Task 4.1: Policy Guide
  • Task 4.2: Revenue and Fee Assessment
  • Task 4.3: Recreation Program Gap Analysis
  • Task 4.4: Recreation and Programming Plan
Research & Analysis - Planning & Policy Development
5. Fiscal Sustainability and Partnerships Plan
  • Task 5.1: Policy Guide
  • Task 5.2: Sustainable Funding Strategies
  • Task 5.3: Partnership and Stewardship Strategies
  • Task 5.4: Friends of Des Moines Parks
  • Task 5.5: Marketing and Outreach Strategy
Research & Analysis - Planning & Strategy Development
6. Strategic Implementation Plan
  • Task 6.1: Guiding Principles
  • Task 6.2: 2 to 5-Year Implementation Plan
7. Final Plans
  • Task 7.1: Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan
  • Task 7.2: Strategic Implementation Plan
  • 50% Draft Documents Review
  • 90% Draft Documents Review
  • 100% Draft Documents Review

Steering Committee

  • Frank Cownie – Mayor of Des Moines
  • Ben Page – Parks and Recreation Director
  • Bill Good – Des Moines School District
  • George Davis – Park and Recreation Board Chair
  • Izaah Knox – Urban Dreams
  • Katie Wengert – Broadlawns Hospital
  • Joe Gonzalez – Latino Resources, Inc.
  • Joe McGovern – Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
  • Joshua Barr – Human Rights Director
  • Meg Schneider – Des Moines Partnership Representative
  • Michael Simonson – Plan and Zoning Commission
  • Sally Dix – Bravo Greater Des Moines
  • Sarah Lohmeier – Friends of Des Moines Parks Board Member
  • See Rodari – Asian Community Representative

Contact Information

If you have questions, or cannot attend any of these meetings, please contact Richard Brown:

Parks and Recreations logo
  • 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy
  • Des Moines, IA 50317
  • (515) 283-4182

Get in Touch with Us