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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Iowa

All Iowa Community Grocery
(Des Moines)
Fresh Produce and Smart Growth
Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway Extension
(Des Moines)
Highway Plan Targets Urban Green Space

All Iowa Community Grocery
(Des Moines)
Fresh Produce and Smart Growth

In conjunction with neighborhood residents, local consumers and farmers, 1000 Friends of Iowa is pushing to create a unique grocery store on the edge of downtown Des Moines. The full-service grocery store would feature Iowa-grown food and be designed to fit the historical and architectural flavor of the neighborhood. Community support for the project, which would help rejuvenate an older section of Des Moines, is near unanimous. But instead of helping this smart-growth project along, city government is dragging its feet.

The existing downtown farmers' market has been steadily growing in popularity, proving that locally grown meats and produce are popular. Every Saturday between May and October, thousands of customers congregate on Court Avenue to buy everything from fruits and vegetables to farm-raised chicken. The benefits to the local economy seem reason enough to build a store that offers locally grown foods all year round.

But the proposed community grocery store, which would be located at 6th and University Avenues, would have other benefits too. It would rejuvenate a neglected part of Des Moines, provide new life for commercial and residential revitalization in the adjoining neighborhood and bring needed jobs to the community.

Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway Extension
(Des Moines)
Highway Plan Targets Urban Green Space

Tearing down urban highways has brought new life to neighborhoods long hemmed-in by the roads. Unfortunately, Des Moines seems to be heading in the opposite direction with the proposed extension of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. This project will put a highway in what is now an urban green space and flood-control zone.

The Des Moines River Valley is a unique urban green space that provides a variety of habitats for wildlife, plants and people. It is an important wintering ground for the bald eagle and ideal habitat for many species of migratory birds. This area also serves as a buffer between existing neighborhoods and the current interstate. Two bicycle trails run along the river and improve the transportation choices for Des Moines residents.

Building a highway through this area will clearly harm its value to wildlife, reduce the value of the land as a floodplain and make areas downstream more prone to flooding. The proposed extension will also encourage sprawl outside the city and add to the traffic and air pollution problems of the region. Middle- and low-income neighborhoods near the proposed route will suffer from more noise and air pollution.

Given that new highways draw more drivers onto the road, the parkway extension would do little to ease traffic. Rather than building a major new highway and destroying this open space, a smarter plan would enhance this urban green space and use public transportation to ease the area's traffic congestion.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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