January 10, 2024

As we close out another year of ICON Water Trails, we are incredibly grateful to you for your continued support. Together, with our partners, volunteers, and donors, we’ve met several tremendous milestones, and we’re just getting started! Take a look below at some of this year’s highlights.


Project Manager Hired

In March, ICON welcomed its very first Project Manager, Monica Converse. An engineer by trade, Converse now oversees all of ICON’s signature downtown projects. She has successfully stewarded ICON’s Harriet Street site through the bidding process and is working with partners to finalize the design concept for the Fleur Drive site. Converse also manages all construction details for ICON’s Scott Avenue Site at Principal Point. MORE>

Best of Des Moines

This year, ICON was recognized in the Business Record’s Best of Des Moines as the “Best Thing that Will Happen to Central Iowa in the Upcoming Year.” ICON was also the runner-up in the category “Best Thing to Happen to Central Iowa in the Past Year.” We’re so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and look forward to what ICON will bring in the year ahead! MORE>

Executive Director Hired

In September, Stephanie Oppel, Ph.D., joined the ICON staff as Executive Director. The pool of candidates considered for this role was incredibly competitive, but ultimately the ICON Water Trails Board of Directors selected Oppel for her wealth of knowledge related to fundraising and development, refined strategic communication skills, and demonstrated creative problem-solving. “Stephanie brings incredible expertise to ICON Water Trails,” Dan Houston, Chairman, President & CEO of Principal Financial Group and Co-Chair of the ICON Water Trails Board of Directors, said. “She embodies the talent, determination, and knowledge needed to steward the organization into this next phase of implementation.” MORE>

Wild Prairie Showdown

For the first time ever, ICON co-hosted the Wild Prairie Showdown with its partners at the Great Outdoors Foundation. This peer-to-peer fundraising campaign concluded with a pseudo-pageant in which four local participants competed to be named MVP — Most Valuable Philanthropist. Team ICON won the competition and collectively, the event raised more than $120,000 for conservation and recreation. MORE>


MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund Grant

The spring cycle of the MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund, a $5 million investment in ICON Water Trails, was awarded to the City of Clive for its Greenbelt Landing project. This funding will be used to establish access to Walnut Creek, the very first ICON site along this water trail. When complete, the Greenbelt Landing will also feature an outdoor performance stage, formal festival grounds, an all-inclusive playground, an accessible fishing pier, and a stormwater wetland. MORE>

ICON/Bravo Public Art Grant

In June, ICON and its partner Bravo Greater Des Moines awarded the City of Clive and the City of Urbandale funding from a joint public art grant. Both municipalities will be using the funding to implement public art along their respective water trails. The next grant cycle for this funding will open in March. MORE>

New ICON Site

Over the summer, the City of Bondurant held its ribbon cutting for the brand new ICON site within Eagle Park. The City of Bondurant was the first recipient of the MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund grant in the spring of 2022. It is anticipated that three additional sites will be added to the regional network in 2024. MORE>

On Water Maintenance & Cleanup

ICON and its contractors implemented its first on-water maintenance program this year, addressing impediments and restoration on both Beaver and Fourmile Creeks. Additionally, ICON and its partners activated nearly 500 volunteers who removed more than 6,000 pounds of trash from our waterways and surrounding park areas. These programs embody ICON’s continued commitment to environmental conservation. MORE>


Principal Point Groundbreaking & Construction

In April, ICON and its partners broke ground on Principal Point at the Scott Avenue bridge. This project includes both in-water and uplands work, with eventual whitewater features and an educational plaza. Construction is well underway — view our live feed here — and will be completed in 2026. MORE>

Fleur Drive Site

ICON’s Fleur Drive site has progressed tremendously over the last year. The concepting phase of the project is now complete, and ICON and its partners are now moving through design and permitting. The Fleur Drive site also received a $425,000 Prairie Meadows Legacy Grant earlier this year, bringing total fundraising to nearly $98 million. MORE>

Harriet Street Access Point

In October, ICON’s Harriet Street went to bid and received several proposals well within budget. Construction will begin in 2024. This is the final project of ICON’s BUILD Grant sites. MORE>