Conservation officials in Polk County have unveiled plans to renovate Easter Lake Park, with the intent to create Iowa's first fully-accessible recreation area.

Polk County conservation's project which broke ground on Wednesday is set to include zero-entry ramps to allow people with limited mobility access to the water. There will be a full inventory of adaptive recreation equipment, along with extra wide sidewalks to usher wheelchair users and their families across the shorefront, and a de-escalation room for people with sensory input disorder, to name a few. Modified signage is also planned to make navigation more accessible.

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According to the assistant Polk County Conservation director Kami Rankin:

We are laser-focused on drawing all people to enjoy nature and recreate outdoors. When people feel safe and secure they are more likely to do just that - explore. With this project, we are creating a safer, more welcoming space for people of all abilities

Community leaders have been raising funds for some time to make this project possible, and you can learn how to contribute here. A major part of the funding is coming from the $2.5 million earmarked in the Destination Iowa grant, as well as support from other donors, including Athene USA, a retirement services organization that will be the naming sponsor.

Easter Lake Park
Easter Lake Park

Polk County Conservation's website provides a full list of what the upgrades will include:

  • ADA Accessible pontoon boat
  • Quiet, de-escalation rooms for people with sensory input disorders
  • Large beach mats to serve as accessible walkways over sand
  • Extra-wide concrete paths for wheelchairs and walkers
  • Full inventory of adaptive and accessible equipment for rent
  • Zero-entry ramps providing easier access to the water
  • Fully accessible natural playscape
  • Nature and outdoor recreation programming including accessible equipment and curricula

Construction on the so-called North Shore Recreation Area is set to begin this fall, with completion expected in 2024.

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