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Was the Water and Land Legacy Bond a bait-and-switch?

1/23/2013

Amber Williams’ article (“Turn It Over,” Oct. 17) captured the essence of what most voters believed about the $50 million Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond and why they ultimately passed the bond by 72 percent approval margin. I think voters would be very surprised to know that half the money was already allocated within two months of it passing and scheduled to be used up within the first three years. Very little of the budget has anything at all to do with clean water or creating more green space. Of the $50 million, $15 million is allocated to “Park Improvement Projects” and 48 percent of the “park improvement” money ($7.1 million) goes to Jester Park alone. Neighbors of Jester Park are pretty upset about it, because they wouldn’t have even known about it if they hadn’t gotten nosey about why the PCCB was burning off the beloved prairie and staking out a road right through the middle of it.                

According to the actual budget, which was approved by the Polk County Conservation Board on Jan. 9, the biggest chunk of the Jester Park money is going to build a new Conservation Center, parking lot and new Jester Park entrance. The new building will house the new offices of the PCCB and indoor classrooms with windows to observe the wildlife which will no longer be there after they all but destroy the 50-acre prairie (financed by taxpayers 15 years ago) and route the nearly 300,000 annual visitors through its habitat. The neighbors have every reason to complain, and so do the taxpayers. PCCB said the money would be used for improved water quality, wildlife habitat protection, connected greenways, 15 revitalized parks and outdoor recreation and education. The emphasis was on water quality. One of the board members actually admitted they can do very little about water quality.                

The fact that they are attempting to stay under the radar and are in such a hurry to do this in spite of public objections and valid concerns puts up many red flags. I went to the board meetings to voice my objections and told them it appeared to be a “bait and switch” tactic.

Kristen M. Boyles
–West Des Moines

 

Correction: Actors Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad perform in “The Book of Mormon” (Center Stage, Jan. 17), but they are not part of the Des Moines production. Elder Price will be played by Mark Evans and Elder Cunningham will be played by John O’Neill.

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