Polk County Water & Land Legacy Bond
Photo: Easter Lake is now one of the cleanest lakes in Iowa following a complete renovation of the watershed. This outdoor recreation hub on the south side of Des Moines encourages visitors to paddle, swim, fish, and traverse the 4-mile trail that circles the lake.
In 2012, the voters in Polk County, with a 72% approval, passed the $50.0 million Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond. Specific areas were targeted with specific percentages of the bond being used for water quality, trails, land acquisition, and park improvements. These funds have either been expended or committed to a variety of highly successful water quality, trails, land acquisition, and park improvement projects throughout Polk County.
2012 - 2021 Bond Project Information
On January 12, 2021, the Polk County Board of Supervisors asked The Trust for Public Land, in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy and the Great Outdoors Foundation, to explore potential options to renew dedicated funding for conservation within the county. This research provided a stand-alone, fact-based reference document that was used to evaluate financing mechanisms from an objective vantage point. The completed Feasibility Study indicated that a general obligation bond best suited the Conservation Board’s future water and land conservation needs.
On June 9, 2021, by Roll Call No. 21-0611, the Polk County Conservation Board requested the Polk County Board of Supervisors to place a $65.0 million Polk County’s Water & Land Legacy general obligation bond on the November 2, 2021 regular county election ballot and recommended bond language.
With the completion and Board of Supervisors’ acceptance of the Feasibility Study in late March 2021, staff, with the above entities, commissioned a professionally administered, statistically valid public opinion survey of Polk County voters to test funding options, including ballot language, tax tolerance, timing, and program priorities. From this research, the partners working on this bond referendum recommend placing a $65.0 million general obligation bond on the November 2, 2021 ballot. Iowa law requires that the Conservation Board submit a petition asking that bonds be issued for a specified amount to the Polk County Board of Supervisors for this public measure to be placed on the ballot.
POLK COUNTY’S WATER AND LAND LEGACY
Shall the County of Polk, State of Iowa, issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding $65,000,000 for the purpose of acquisition and improvement of land for conservation, recreation, or other public park purposes to be managed by the Polk County Conservation Board, including protecting drinking water sources, protecting the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams, including the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers and their tributaries, protecting wildlife habitat and natural areas, providing more outdoor recreational opportunities, improving public access to and the safety of rivers and creeks for floating, boating, and fishing, providing walking, hiking, biking, and water trails in Polk County, and preventing flooding, with full public disclosure of all expenditures?
The Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond shall:
- Protect drinking water sources; protect the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams, protect the water quality of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers and their tributaries; help prevent flooding
- Protect wildlife habitat; protect natural areas; provide nature education opportunities for children; provide more outdoor recreational opportunities such as fishing, hiking, picnicking, and canoeing
- Improve public access, water quality, and safety to Raccoon and Des Moines River and other creeks in Polk County for floating, boating, and fishing.