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Mountain bike park moving forward in the metro

The project received unanimous approval Monday from the Des Moines city council.

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — The undeveloped land north of Copper Creek Lake Park might not look like much right now, but there are some big plans in the works to change that. 

The Des Moines City Council on Monday unanimously approved a rezoning request that will turn 50 acres into a mountain biker's paradise.

The many trails around Des Moines are one of the metro's highlights, spanning over 80 miles in total. And with city council giving the green light, the Copper Creek Mountain Bike Park will be adding another four and a half miles, filling in a bit of a hole in the process.

"There's kind of a gap in the trails on the east side of Des Moines. And most of them are kind of in the central part of town. So that's a big benefit," said Dave McCloney, President of the Central Iowa Trail Association.

Getting to this point wasn't easy. 

At a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in September, several residents voiced concerns about the park, especially the environmental impact. For the final vote at city council on Monday, Oct. 24, there wasn't an empty seat in the house. 

And the majority of speakers were there to show support. 

"Even though Des Moines has a lot of bike trails, I don't think it has a lot of mountain bike trails that I'm aware of. So it's nice to have another one for all the people out there that do have mountain bikes and enjoy that," said Jeff Gieseke, a local cyclist.

It's not just mountain bikers that will get to enjoy the new space: even nearby homeowners could benefit. 

The National Recreation & Park Association found that the presence of trails usually drives up nearby property values. Local businesses could see a bump, too.

"I'll travel a couple hours to go ride a trail system, and when we typically do that, you'll stop and you'll get lunch or dinner and things like that. So it certainly should bring some impact to the East side," McCloney said.

According to the Central Iowa Trail Association, the new park should be open and ready for riders sometime in the spring of 2024.

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