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Recreationists Launching into Summer Fun with Altoona’s New Adaptive Amenity

Spring Creek Park

May 7, 2024

The City of Altoona is making a splash, thanks to its new adaptive amenity. The eastern metro community recently celebrated the completion of a new accessible boat dock and attached adaptive canoe and kayak launch that can be used by recreationists of all abilities. This new amenity is the highlight of the completion of the first phase of work to transform Spring Creek Park. When complete, the sprawling facility will adjoin with nearby Burget Park to feature two small lakes, an adaptive playground, a community center space and connections to the extensive trail system connecting the east side of Greater Des Moines (DSM) with surrounding communities and the entire region.

Spring Creek South Lake’s New Amenities

Spring Creek Park’s south lake is home to a new boat ramp, dock and adaptive canoe and kayak launch that can be accessed off of 30th Street SE, near the intersection of NE 80th Street. There’s plenty of parking available for fishers and boaters to stow their vehicles while they are enjoying all the lake now has to offer. The boat ramp is intended for small electric motorboats. Enthusiasts are cautioned that the south lake is a no wake zone, and watercraft with gas powered engines, even those that use an electric trolling motor, are not permitted on the water. Along with the ramp, recreationists can board their boats by using the dock and attached canoe and kayak launch.

The City included a Board Safe brand adaptive launch, which can accommodate boaters of all experience and abilities. The wide ramp from the land onto the boat dock is accessible and can be used by boaters who use a mobility device, such as a scooter or wheelchair. Adaptive boaters can use the series of shallow steps / seating platforms, handles and pulleys to board their watercraft and pull themselves, and their boats, into the water. When a recreationist is done boating, they can paddle their canoe, kayak or smaller water device back into the launch and using the arm pulleys, pull themselves and their watercraft back out of the lake.

The City came together to celebrate the opening of the new launch at an event in April 2024. At this event, Altoona’s mayor, Dean O’Connor, demonstrated how to use this innovative feature. To view a clip of Mayor O’Connor “launching himself” courtesy of this new amenity, click here. We’re very excited to offer this first of its kind amenity within our community and hope that local recreationists appreciate and utilize this new boat launch.

Sprink Lake Park Accessible Boat Dock

Safety and Environmental Considerations

Recreationists who use the new amenities are encouraged to keep some basic water safety in mind. Users should plan to wear a life jacket as recommended by City staff, because the water in the south lake has depths ranging from 40- to 45-feet deep in some places. Fishing can be enjoyed year-round, and the City of Altoona works with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stock the lake with bass, bluegill, catfish and crappie. Visitors are asked to leave the job of stocking this lake to the professionals and refrain from introducing their own varieties of fish to Altoona’s waterways to help preserve the ecological balance of these areas.

The Future of Spring Creek Park

The restoration of the park’s south lake and the addition of the new boat ramp, boat dock and adaptive canoe and kayak is just the first step in a series of updates and new amenities for both the Spring Creek south lake and nearby Burget Park area. Along with the installation of the boating amenities on the south lake, landscaping work was done in 2023 and 2024, planting new grass along the lake shores, and planting several new trees. In the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, City staff plans to begin installing additional recreational trail on the south lake, opening up a path along the waterscape for locals walking and biking to enjoy, while connecting the south lake to other trailways in the area. Also included in the plans for future development along the south lake is the installation of a fishing pier. This pier will be built along the lake's northeast area, near where the boat ramp and dock with canoe and kayak launch is located. The pier will be a separate structure and will not be connected to the existing dock and canoe and kayak launch.

Work on the north lake, also known as Burget Lake, or Burget Park, after former Altoona Mayor, Tim Burget, will be a much larger scale project in the future. As our community continues to grow, especially as new housing is developed in the city’s south and east sides, the development of this park will bring community amenities much closer for the city’s newest residents.

Beginning this fall, the Altoona parks department will work with the engineering department to search for an outside firm to create a new master plan for the area. This plan will provide funding guidelines for the project and give staff and the Altoona City Council a blueprint to work off as the region is developed in future fiscal years. The plan will also lay out ideas for future amenities for parking space surrounding the north lake area. Ideas for inclusion for this space range from permanent bathroom structures, additional trail and trail connections to the existing network in Altoona, an accessible playground that can be enjoyed by children of all ages and abilities, a community center where city programs will operate and that residents can reserve for their own use, additional water sports and water recreation activities and much more. As this final plan is developed, city staff will share updates with residents and will post the final plan, on their website, altoona-iowa.com.

Grant Funding Made Project Possible

The City of Altoona would like to thank Prairie Meadows, who funded $20,000 for the canoe and kayak boat launch, and accessible boat ramp project through a community betterment grant. Grant funding such as this provides a link between public entities, such as the City, and private organizations, including Prairie Meadows, to help provide vital resources and new amenities for communities without an additional spend of taxpayer dollars. Prairie Meadows provides funding for several important community resources across Polk County, and the city is grateful for the grant funding it receives for projects to help better the lives of Altoona’s residents and visitors.

Splash Into Fun in Altoona!

We’re very happy to welcome visitors and residents to enjoy these new adaptive amenities, and all the future additions planned for the Spring Creek Park area. As we continue to invest in developments and recreation activities and spaces as the community grows, we will update residents and visitors on our projects through the City’s website and social media channels.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 13% below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life. In 2022, Site Selection Magazine named it a top metro for a number of economic development projects.

Rachel Simon

Rachel Simon is the Communications Specialist of the City of Altoona. She handles information and messaging for Altoona’s 22,000 residents. Altoona is renowned for its entertainment destinations, and the city works hard to ensure there are also recreation activities for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round.