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Community Team


Hannah Schmitz, Bolton & Menk

Landscape Architect

Dylan Jones, Bolton & Menk

Steering Committee

Jenyse Belden

Matt Funk

Terri Hommer

Erin Hunsaker

Mike Morgan

Lynsi Pasutti

Kristen Renslow

Trees Forever Facilitator

Leslie Berckes

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Community Report

Stuart (population 1,612) is approximately 40 miles west of Des Moines and is located just north of Interstate 80, which brings many travelers into town who contribute to the local economy. The historic White Pole Road (old Highway 6) runs east-west through town. Stuart’s “claim to fame” is that Bonnie and Clyde robbed the First National Bank (now a hair salon) in 1934.

Stuart has amenities such as the Lawbaugh City Park, Stuart Sports Complex, a half-mile walking/biking trail, and the Stuart Recreation Center. However, pedestrian access and proper signage to these amenities is currently lacking. An incomplete sidewalk system hinders access to and from areas such as the high school and recreational fields. High truck and rail traffic also causes safety concerns because there is only one marked railroad crossing for pedestrians and an increased amount of semi traffic driving through town to reach the ethanol plant.

Planning and Design Summary

The focus groups showed that Stuart residents appreciate the outdoor amenities in town but would like them to be more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. A major concern raised during these sessions is the lack of a sidewalk or trail to the high school. The visioning committee used information from the focus groups to guide the goal-setting process. The resulting concept plan includes the following elements:

  • Pedestrian Connections – Develop a path from Lawbaugh Park to the high school and add railroad crossing gates.
  • Community Identity – Create custom entrance signs, way-finding signage, and an information kiosk for visitors.
  • City Streetscape and Traffic Calming – Plant street trees, add bump-outs at intersections to decrease pedestrian crossing distances, and install pedestrian crossing signals where appropriate.
  • Parks – Redesign the outdoor reading room to include a curvilinear sidewalk, planting beds, a gathering space, and a table area; connect Lawbaugh Park to the recreation fields.

Assessment Highlights

Transportation Barriers

The focus-group workshops and the analysis of the design team revealed some consistent themes regarding transportation barriers in Stuart: nighttime visibility and security, seasonal barriers such as flooding from heavy rainfall, gaps in the sidewalk network, and intersections where people don’t feel safe, such as the busy intersection and heavy truck traffic at Division and 350th Streets.

Desired Improvements

Changes suggested by focus-group participants include

  1. Improve the sidewalk network by fixing existing sidewalks and build continuous sidewalks along Division Street and to the high school.
  2. Make a trail system in town and to out-of-town destinations such as the Raccoon River Valley Trail in Redfield.
  3. Create better connections by improving pedestrian crossings to the high school and other places
  4. Incorporate traffic control measures diverting racetrack traffic from Adair Street, and put in stop signs or a signal at the intersection of Division and Front Streets.