August 04, 2021

Parks and Rec explores future of McKinley Lake

As it continues the pursuit of a nearly $2 million bond to dredge McKinley Lake, Creston Parks and Recreation invite the public to view the project details at 10 and 11:30 a.m. July 31. during the McKinley Park Fest.

To improve conditions at McKinley Lake and to restore it to conditions used in years past, the board is seeking public support for half of its project, which totals nearly $4 million. The current cost is an estimate as the plan is still in its preliminary phase.

On Tuesday, members of Creston Parks and Rec met with officials from the city and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to discuss what has been done to prepare for the project and what is needed for completion.

Barker Lemar, now Evora Group, headquartered in West Des Moines, helped parks and rec with a 10-year plan to rehabilitate its watershed entering the lake. John Kawa, Creston Parks and Recreation board member, said they were advised to improve the water quality and park amenities, which the board has completed over the past 20 years.

Kawa said prior to the board’s efforts, Hurley Creek and the lake was a dumping ground for waste. He said the large debris was removed from the creek and a a grant was used to add a three-pond sediment filtration system. An annual trash and waste clean up in partnership with Southwestern Community College volunteers has maintained park and rec’s work.

Now that amenities have been improved – the addition of walking trails, a memorial garden, landscaping, newer playground equipment and bathrooms – and the watershed project complete, the board has hired Des Moines-based Fyra Engineering to help develop a plan, design and cost estimates.

When the measure appeared on ballots in 2019, it failed by approximately 40 votes. Now that the plan has been revamped and not competing against two other bond measures, Kawa and the board are looking to educate the public about the project and the process prior to the election in November.

“We hope with the people of Creston and everybody here that can help us, that we can partner up and go after a bond issue this fall with the votes of the people in Creston and the help of the DNR and other partners,” said Kawa. “I think our project of 20 years can be a reality and we can get this thing done.”


Charles Ikenberry of Fyra Engineering reviewed a 2019 preliminary study with city officials and DNR officials.

“It’s about as shallow of a lake you’ll ever see,” said Ikenberry. “The lake’s very old. It’s got a long history and that’s what lakes do over time. They’re really effective at catching whatever comes in so that’s what happens. There’s a lot of soft sediment that’s built in.”

Ikenberry said its necessary to remove some of the sediment is to get some depth back, an average of 7 to 8 feet, with maximum a maximum depth of 15 fee. An estimated 300,000 cubic yards of sediment would be removed.

“To maintain a healthy fishery you need a certain amount of depth. To maintain good water quality, you need a certain amount of depth,” he said.

Ikenberry said the amount of sediment in McKinley would be tough to remove, but is looking at how much sediment needs to be removed to restore conditions at the lake to what it once was. A study was done to review sediment volumes and locations were scouted for the sediment once removed.

A pipe in the lake would allow water to be removed more easily, which Ikenberry said is beneficial as it lowers the cost of the project. Once the water is removed, he said that’s the time to do shoreline improvements.

“There’s some shoreline erosion. A lot of time shoreline areas are shallow, kids get tangled up in weeds when they try to fish from the shore because the vegetation really grows,” he said.

Ikenberry suggested adding habitat, such as spawning beds or structures that fish like to congregate around, improving fishing conditions.

Other options being explored are the installation of boat ramps and fishing jetties. Ikenberry said the final plan and design will be dependent on budget and public input.

“One of the things we want to do is get that feed back and what do people most want to see,” he said.

The McKinley Park Festival is slated for Saturday, July 31. A kids fishing derby will start at 10 a.m. with registration at 9:15 a.m. Inflatables in the park will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with Farmers Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A hot dog lunch will take place at noon. All ages are welcome and the activities are free.


Sarah Scull is a San Diego transplant living in Creston, Iowa. Sarah joined the Creston News Advertiser editorial staff as a reporter in in 2012 and was promoted to managing editor in November 2018. After two years in that role, she has since become associate editor to spend her time doing what she loves – writing and photography.