May 20, 2021

Sgt. Scarlett’s last meeting with Woodland Heights

The May monthly meeting of the Woodland Heights Organization was held Tue. May 18 over Zoom.  Neighbors Zoomed in to hear first from Polk County Supervisor, Matt McCoy.  


Polk County Supervisor, Matt McCoy with
The Woodland Heights Org. May 18, 2021


Supervisor McCoy shared the latest news on mental health funding in the State of Iowa, with changes by state legislators to transfer funding model from the County property tax levy, to state-funding.  

Next McCoy detailed County emergency response to the Pandemic, including $40 million of expenses last year going towards health, emergency housing and eviction relief, nutrition, and other efforts.  McCoy expects the $94 million of American Rescue Plan money to reimburse the County for last year’s pandemic expenses.  The remaining funds must be spent in certain ways, and the County is seeking resident feedback on what shovel-ready projects are in need of these emergency funds.  

McCoy reviewed InvestDSM, reminding neighbors the County invested $2.5 million last year and plans to contribute $5 million this year.  

The Iowa Events Center lost $2 million each of the last 2 years.  The convention center hotel lost $6-8 million, according to McCoy.  On the bright side, Prairie Meadows business is rebounding and all 1,500 employees have been offered the opportunity to come back to work.  

Sg. Scarlett (first from left) at the WHO
National Night Out in August 2018

During the regular DMPD Neighborhood Based Service Delivery (NBSD) report, Sgt. Scarlett surprised neighbors by announcing this was her last meeting as NBSD Officer for Woodland Heights.  Going forward she will be part of a team serving Des Moines’ South Side.  The DMPD is currently working on selecting Sgt. Scarlett’s successor.  In the meantime, neighbors can use Sgt. Scarlett as their contact for NBSD concerns.  

One concern was noise near the Star Gas Station and other businesses near Ingersoll Ave. and Linden Street.  Sgt. Scarlett has been in contact with business owners and the city.  Replacing fending could help reduce cut through traffic across the gas station property.  Police have been in the area at problem times, but have found it difficult to charge for offenses as it is difficult to measure the decibels of noise for the required period of time.  If loud cars realize they are being recorded, they turn down the music or drive away.  

Sgt. Scarlett recommended neighbors keep calling in complaints and using the addresses of where they identify issues so the database will link all the cases.  515-283-4811.

Candidate for Des Moines City Council (at-large seat), Justyn Lewis addressed the Woodland Heights Organization and introduced himself.  The municipal election is November 2.  Practicing fairness, all candidates for city council (at-large and Ward 3) will be invited to a WHO meeting.  

Ahead of the May 20 city Plan & Zoning Commission meeting, the WHO discussed a proposal to rezone property at 2406 Woodland Avenue (to allow for a duplex).  A motion was made and seconded to oppose the proposed rezoning.  This motion passed.  






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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines


April 21, 2021

Hight Street traffic calming, NFC, Barber Shop, and noise discussed in April

The April 20, 2021 monthly meeting of the Woodland Heights Organization was packed full of business and updates.

A virtual meeting for the sole purpose of hearing from interested neighbors (and anyone interest in the issue) about needed traffic calming on High Street is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11 @7pm on Zoom.  A staff member at the City's traffic department will be on hand to present on the City's traffic calming program.  Find  all the information online at bit.ly/highstreet21.  

Stephanie Murphy, NFC Exec. Director speaks with Woodland
Heights neighbors at the April 20, 2021 WHO meeting

Neighborhood Finance Corporation's Executive Director, Stephanie Murphy, was the featured guest at the meeting.  Murphy shared info about the NFC's many programs and how Woodland Heights residents can take advantage of them.

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Thinking About Making Renovations to Your Home This Year?

You may qualify for up to $10,000 in a forgivable home loan!

Did you know that Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) has been providing purchase, refinance, and home improvement renovations in the Des Moines area for over 30 years?  In the past year 216 homeowners or homebuyers have completed $4.6 million in home renovations through an NFC Advantage Loan.  Since NFC started lending in the Neighborhood, they have provided loans to over 279 households totaling over $15 million in repayable and forgivable loans in our neighborhood.

The Woodland Heights neighborhood is in a Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) lending area which means you may apply for an NFC Advantage Loan and qualify for a forgivable loan of up to $10,000 in home renovations.  The forgivable loan is available when first qualifying for a purchase, refinance, or home improvement loan. In addition, some homebuyers may qualify for up to $10,500 in down payment assistance. 

If you are considering exterior repairs or improvements, ask NFC about their Front Porch Program loans. These loans are available to homeowners seeing repairs or improvements to the exterior of their homes. Front Porch loans have been used for projects like roof and foundation repairs, window and door replacements, exterior siding or painting, new garages, driveways, and more.

For details on all of NFC’s lending programs, please visit NeighborhoodFinance.org.

NFC is a non-profit, licensed Iowa mortgage company offering purchase, refinance and home improvement loans. Every NFC Advantage loan is paired with a forgivable loan that is forgiven with five years of owner-occupancy. NFC partners with Polk County, the City of Des Moines, neighborhood associations and local financial institutions to facilitate neighborhood revitalization in NFC lending areas. 

To see if your home currently qualifies for NFC Lending, please visit the NFC lending map at NeighborhoodFinance.org or call their office at 515.246.0010.

Equal Housing Lender   NMLS# 8943

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Also at the April 20 meeting, neighbors shared their vision and hopes for 2513 Woodland Ave., the run down building that previously housed a barber shop.  Two potential developers shared broad ideas for the property and listened to WHO members to gauge the support they might have for a future redevelopment proposal.  At the meeting, many neighbors did express interest in the idea of a small retail development.  Read Lyla's response to the interest in retail/commercial redevelopment online here.  

NBSD officer, DMPD's Sgt. Scarlett, shared the regular incident report for the neighborhood with attendees at the April 20 WHO meeting.  In addition to the regular rundown, Sgt. Scarlett spoke extensively about the noise (and other) complaints related to people driving, congregating, parking, and playing loud music from their cars near 2617 Ingersoll Avenue.  




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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines


Lyla's response to interest in commercial development at 2513 Woodland

A message from longtime Woodland Heights neighbor, Lyla:  

Please pass this information along to any party of interest including people at (the April 20, 2021) meeting of the WHO.

At (the April 20, 2021) meeting of the WHO there was much support for taking this building (2513 Woodland Ave.) back to small commercial. I do not think that the city would allow this because it would be "spot zoning" which is illegal and there is no availability for off street parking which is required under zoning...for either commercial or residential use. The neighbors could fight the city to allow for this type of use...but that process would take many months, and require several public hearing processes and much conflict.

Chapter 134-7.2.6 of the Des Moines Zoning Code:  If a nonconforming use in a N district (single family homes) is discontinued for more than one year for any reason whatsoever, the nonconforming use is deemed abandoned and may not be re-established.

This property has been vacant for over 20 years and lost its legal nonconforming status that can not be re-established.

There was discussion by two adjoining neighbors saying they would be interested in acquiring the property to expand their property. This may be a possibility but they would have to pay for the property and the cost of demolition of the structure. My best estimate would be $30,000 - 40,000 to do this. (could split the cost) Most people do not have this kind of money up front but they could possibly refinance their homes to acquire the land and demolition costs. This process could take a year if allowed.

The NFC could start building a new home (using same footprint) this fall if they can receive 2 exceptions from the city on "set back" requirements for the front of the house and the driveway.

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March 18, 2021

Urban Agriculture message at March meeting

The Woodland Heights Org. held its March monthly meeting virtually, on Zoom, on March 16, 2021.  This meeting marked the 1 year anniversary of the March 2020 meeting that was cancelled because of the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The 2021 annual meeting (including officer and board elections) continues to be postponed to a future date TBD.

Find information on Facebook about the neighborhood's efforts to keep the Woodland Heights clean and beautiful with regular litter-pickup events throughout the year.  Coming up soon:  Sun. March 28 @ 1pm.  Trash bags for the cleanup to be provided by DM Public Works.  

Andrea Vaage of the city's Food Security Task Force addresses the WHO 3/16/21,
while other guests included City Council members, Carl Voss & Connie Boesen

The featured guest was from the city's newly-implemented Food Security Task Force.  This citizen group wants to create resources and a space to be the one-stop-shop for all resident questions about urban agriculture in the city of Des Moines.  Among Vaage's remarks were comments about resources from ISU Extension (including regulations on urban agriculture) and from the city on its Stormwater Subsity Program.  Vaage recommended the LSI Global Greens Farmers Market due to its location at 3200 University Ave. being so close to the Woodland Heights neighborhood.  

City Council Member, Carl Voss shared info about the upcoming event Friday June 18 hosted by Friends of DM Parks at Waveland Golf Course.  On a downbeat note, Voss shared statistics about increased thefts of automobile catalytic converters and the LeadsOnline website.  

City Council Member, Connie Boesen updated the neighborhood on the recently-approved budget and updated and ongoing city priorities including an additional $100,000 for tree planting and the building of more spray grounds in city parks (some replacement of wading pools).  

Officer Scott Baker of the DMPD shared the NBSD report with neighbors.  




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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines







February 18, 2021

Annual Meeting POSTPONED & info from AMOS

An important piece of business passed at the February monthly meeting of the Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) on Feb. 16, 2021.  A motion PASSSED to postpone the Annual Meeting & Board Elections to a future date.  Normally the Annual Meeting of the WHO is held every March.  But due to ongoing safety and health concerns caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the membership agreed to postpone holding that meeting.  Stay tuned for future updates on when that meeting will be held.  The March 16, 2021 meeting of the WHO will keep the same format as the regular, monthly neighborhood meetings.  

Courtney Dufford, lead organizer for AMOS & Crystal Loving,
DSM resident and AMOS member present to the WHO 2/16/21

The featured guest presentation at the February WHO meeting was from AMOS (amosiowa.org) (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) on the subject of children's mental health.  Neighbors learned about the current challenges including funding.  


AMOS is advocating for positive change to the children's mental health system and funding in the state.  Neighbors can get involved in these efforts by expressing their interest to AMOS via an online survey here.  For more info, contact AMOS at amosiowa@gmail.com.  

State Sen. Claire Celsi addresses the Woodland
Heights Organization on Feb. 16, 2021

Busy (as usual) during the legislative session, but available on the evening of Feb. 16, State Senator Claire Celsi (whose district includes the Woodland Heights neighborhood) Zoomed into the February WHO meeting to share updates from the Capitol.  Celsi, a Democrat, is in the minority party and expressed frustration with much of the legislation brought by the majority Republicans.  
Sen. Celsi welcomes electronic communication (especially during a time when there is less in-person outreach):  Claire.celsi@legis.iowa.gov and by phone 515-462-0487.

Other business items conducted by the WHO included expressing neither support, nor opposition for the proposed rezoning and development of 2510 Ingersoll Ave. and sending a letter stating 4 neighborhood concerns to the Plan & Zoning Commission.  It was also agreed to move forward with High Street neighbors on efforts to address traffic calming on High Street.  





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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines




January 25, 2021

Tree information and Trolley Monument update shared Jan. 2021

The Woodland Heights Organization held its first meeting of 2021 virtually, continuing to keep neighbors physically separated to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

DM City Forester, David Jahn and Kacie Ballard of
Trees Forever present at the Jan. 19, 2021 WHO meeting

2020 was the Year of the Tree in Des Moines, culminating in the release of the city's first Urban Forest Master Plan.  City Forester, David Jahn shared highlights of this plan, raising awareness of the goals of increasing the city's tree canopy and how neighbors and neighborhoods can be part of the solutions.  

Jahn reminded neighbors that the street trees planted in the 'parking' (the area between the street and the sidewalk) are owned by the city and should be maintained only by the city.  Residents are not allowed to cut down or trim these trees.  Instead they should contact the city to perform the necessary maintenance.  

To notify the city you'd like a street tree planted in the city right-of-way in front of your house, find information online here.  

Kacie Ballard of Trees Forever shared information about this nonprofit organization that works closely with the city to leverage volunteers to plant and maintain more city trees than forestry division staff could accomplish.  Ballard talked in depth about the Growing Futures program as well as becoming a Tree Keeper.  

Ballard shared data about trees in Woodland Heights including that Oaks and Flowering Crabapple were the most abundant species.  To increase tree diversity, 4 recommended species include: Kentucky Coffee Tree, Honeylocust, Yellowwood, and Hophornbeam.  

In October 2019 the WHO voted to send a letter of support for ​community efforts to obtain a historic designation for the Des Moines Streetcar turnaround site near 49th Street and University Avenue.  This location is not in Woodland Heights, but WHO members recognized the historical significance streetcars played in the creation and vibrancy of our neighborhood.  A trolley barn was previously a prominent feature of the neighborhood at Ingersoll and 24th. 

A motion was made and passed at the WHO meeting Jan. 19, 2021 to send another letter of WHO support for the project, and a motion was made and passed to send a donation of $25 from WHO toward funding the Trolley Loop Monument. In making this motion it was noted that individuals can send private donations to support the project.

How to donate:  write a check to the Des Moines Historical Society at the following address.  Be sure to put "Waveland Trolley Loop Fund" in the check memo line.  The address is:

   Des Moines Historical Society
   c/o David Barzen, President
   P.O. Box 8038
   Des Moines, IA 50301

The Des Moines Historical Society is a 501.c.3 organization; it maintains a separate account exclusively for the Waveland Trolley Loop project.

See pictures of the Trolley Loop Monument plans online here.  The intent is to create a welcoming pedestrian space featuring a streetcar sculpture, interpretive information, and a place to relax along the new University Avenue multi-use recreational trail.  




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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines

December 16, 2020

Committees supported, fuel station opposed at December meeting

 The Woodland Heights Organization had a full agenda for its regular December membership meeting 12/15/2020.  The featured guest was the city’s Neighborhood Services Department Director, Chris Johansen.  

City of Des Moines Neighborhood Services Dept.
Director, Chris Johansen speaks to the WHO 12/15/20

Dir. Johansen shared the new org chart for the Neighborhood Services Dept., how it has been working in the pandemic, and what new hires and plans are in the works for the future.  (https://www.dsm.city/departments/neighborhood_services/index.php) Several notable items shared by Dir. Johansen include a toolkit being developed for neighborhood associations and neighborhood leaders and interested residents, a citizens academy that would be an opportunity to learn more about how the city functions, and upcoming Jan. 2021 public meetings on how the city can work with homeowners to maintain and make improvements to private property.  

Officer Scott Baker of the DMPD shared the NBSD report and encouraged WHO members to keep sending concerns to Sgt. Scarlett who can forward those messages on as appropriate while Sgt. Scarlett is at the training academy.  

Officer Baker noted plenty of concerns about illegally parked cars in the neighborhood, and a troubling increase in thefts (like purse snatching) at Smokey Row.  Keep aware of your surroundings and be vigilant with your personal property.  

The WHO membership voted overwhelmingly at its December meeting to empower the WHO VP to coordinate an assessment and reorganization of the WHO Committees to carry out their desired goals more effectively and efficiently.

The big agenda item that drew much interest and perhaps increased meeting attendance was a vote by the WHO to express either support for or opposition against “Expansion of the existing fuel station use (at 2701 Ingersoll Ave (Star)) to increase the building from 1,020 square feet to approximately 2,300 square feet… Conditional Use Approval (per City Code Section 134-6.4) for a “Fuel Station Use” use in an “MX2” District.”  The proposal was on the Dec. 16 ZBOA agenda.

After discussion, the vote of the neighborhood was to oppose the conditional use as proposed.  




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This post typed by Phil.

The Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) is the neighborhood association recognized by the city of Des Moines representing Woodland Heights. Its purpose is is to stabilize, preserve, and revitalize area homes, enhance the quality of life in the neighborhood, and to promote community within our neighborhood amongst all residents and businesses. WHO is a volunteer organization.

for more information email who50312@gmail.com; view past issues of the email newsletter and subscribe at bit.ly/whoemail; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whodesmoines