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Polk County to purchase Sleepy Hollow Sports Park

With Polk County's $3.5 million purchase of the 78-acre site Tuesday, big improvements are coming in the next couple of years.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Many thought the Sleepy Hollow Sports Park's future was in serious doubt after closing last winter due to the pandemic. 

The park's well-known attractions like tubing, sledding in the winter, fairs, festivals and concerts during the summer seemed in jeopardy.

But with Tuesday's $3.5 million joint purchase of the 78-acre park by the Polk County Conservation Board and Polk County Board of Supervisors, that is no longer up in the air. 

Tom Hockensmith, Supervisor of District 4, said the rich tradition of the park must go on for all central Iowans to enjoy. 

"It could have been repurposed for something else. [That] was really the last thing that we wanted to see from the Polk County Board of Supervisors standpoint, we wanted to continue the tradition that Rick and Mary Flatt started here," Hockensmith said. 

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Rich Leopold, director of the Polk County Conservation Board, focused his discussion around appealing to businesses and their recruitment abilities. 

"This is a big thing we hear from the business community over and over again, is that we need amenities here that can help them recruit and retain good workforces," Leopold said. "This is what people are looking for!"

Rick Flatt agreed and added that the main theme behind the motivation for the park is to provide a learning experience for families of employees and visitors.

The purchase and transformation won't happen overnight. The Flatts will continue running the park as is through 2022, when Polk County will gradually take over in early 2023. Then, in 2024, the county will assume full operation of the site.

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