Happy birthday, Beaverdale10/5/2016
Beaverdale has a birthday coming up, and it’s a big one.
Sean Bagniewski is the president of the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association. He moved to Beaverdale in 2009, and he’s the man in charge of planning the celebration. He says the planning for the event is still in the early stages, but it will probably happen in the first half of next year.
“We’re thinking spring,” he said. “Maybe about June or July.”
After 100 years, many wonder what makes Beaverdale special. People are attracted to Beaverdale for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s the distinctive appearance, the tree-lined streets shaded by mature trees or the avenues lined with “Beaverdale brick” houses.
“Neighbors who are really passionate about their neighborhood is what makes Beaverdale, Beaverdale,” Bagniewski says. “And you don’t always have to agree on everything, you don’t have to belong to the same political party or the same church, but there is an expectation that you care.”
He points to passionate volunteers like Cindy Smith who spends 10-12 hours every month organizing addresses for the local newsletter.
“There is something in the DNA over here,” Bagniewski says. “The expectation is that you are somehow active. It’s an old-school way of doing things. But it’s not predicated on being Catholic or going to Westminster (Presbyterian Church) or being white or being a guy. If you want to come here, and if you want to volunteer, and if you want to be active, then you’re a part of Beaverdale. And that’s a cool thing.”
And the name Beaverdale is almost as distinct as the neighborhood. No one is certain about the name’s origin, but according to “A History of Beaverdale,” by Ken Black, it hasn’t always been called that. Prior to 1913, the entire area north of University and west of 30th Street was referred to as “Urbandale,” but then the area now known as Urbandale split off and took the name, and that left the remaining northwest Des Moines residents nameless. To solve the problem, those residents convened in 1917 and Beaverdale officially became known as Beaverdale. No one is certain as to the basis for the name, but it’s thought by many to be derived from the proximity to Beaver Creek.
“It’s a great place to live,” he said. “And not having the stereotype of being snooty is really important. People think we’re high-falutin Beaverdale people, and we’re not.”
He explains the neighborhood recently grew from 3,600 homes to 5,000 when it voted to reunite with the Meredith Neighborhood Association, which used to be part of Beaverdale, then split off but recently asked to be back in. Beaverdale’s boundaries are now Forest Avenue to the south, 32nd Street on the east, the city limits to the north and Merle Hay Road to the west.
Bagniewski says that during the acquisition talks, there were some who said Beaverdale should take the single-family homes but leave the multifamily housing out.
“I didn’t live in a house that my family owned until I was fifth grade,” Bagniewski explains. “I started out in a trailer park with a single mother. I’m not going to be the Beaverdale president that brings in all the single family housing and leaves the multifamily out. That’s not who we are.”
And the 100th birthday bash?
“Yes,” he assures. “There will be a cake.”