The Alice’s Road Corridor Project has been one of the most talked about topics in Waukee for almost 20 years and will continue to be discussed after last Wednesday’s unveiling of the 1,500 square-foot project entitled Kettlestone.
Kettlestone, named for the kettle lakes and ponds that were left behind by receding glaciers thousands of years ago, will include shopping and dining experiences along with future office space, apartments, and housing developments all located off of Interstate-80.
“The project is important for the economic development of Dallas County,” Waukee Mayor Bill Peard said at the April 16 unveiling. Peard added the city hopes to “preserve the rich history of the state.”
However, preserving the history of the state could directly affect Waukee’s current history of maintaining the name Alice’s Road, according to almost 40 residents who attended Waukee City Council’s most recent meeting.
Currently, the City is entertaining the idea of re-naming Alice’s Road from I-80 to Hickman Road to the name Grand Prairie Parkway. The remainder of Hickman Road going north would keep the name Alice’s Road-named after longtime resident Alice Nizzi, owner of Alice’s Spaghetti Land.
“The name meets the needs of both communities (Waukee and West Des Moines),” City Administrator Tim Moerman said. “West Des Moines wanted the name to reflect technology and we were looking for something geological.”
Moerman added the name would reduce confusion from Hickman Road traveling south and help with emergency response times if the road had a single name off of the interchange road. The six-lane, single name road would also help with potential business development within the corridor, he said.
Mayor Bill Peard addressed the Nizzi family and supporters of Alice’s Road stating, in his opinion, it is important to preserve Alice Nizzi’s legacy and that there are ways to still honor her within the community.
“To me, one way we can preserve the Nizzi name more than just a corridor from Hickman Road down to the interchange is to potentially name a park after Alice Nizzi,” Peard said. “Tons of kids, tons of adults, and tons of little kids would use that park. With the historical monument of what Alice meant to this community that, to me, would preserve the Nizzi family and the Nizzi legacy far more than a road that extends seven miles instead of one mile.
“But, I guarantee, at a minimum, the road will be preserved from the north of Hickman to the restaurant.”
Peard added there will be a park by the former restaurant and proposed the park name be Alice Nizzi Park with a monument dedicated in her honor. Councilman Casey Harvey agreed with Mayor Peard stating the corridor would do better and would be less confusing to travelers if it had one name. He added a park would be one way to honor Alice Nizzi’s legacy.
“Being a new resident in the last 10 years and talking to my neighbors, a lot of them don’t know why it’s Alice’s Road,” Harvey said. “I think if you have a park, a monument, and you have information behind the monument then that does a certain amount of great service.”
Harvey did agree the Alice’s Road name should continue north of Hickman Road and also added a park could also be dedicated to Nizzi’s legacy in the proposed Kettlestone corridor.
After hearing from the council, members and friends of the Nizzi family spoke in favor of keeping Alice’s Road as is, including Rose Denny who said re-naming the road “feels like her (Alice’s) death all over again; it’s heartbreaking. I don’t think Alice would understand why you are taking away something you honored her with.”
Jen Spears spoke in favor of keeping her great aunt’s name alive within the community, especially as a female business owner.
“The city has a unique opportunity to set itself apart to celebrate this female business owner,” Spears said. “For a long time she had a female staff hiring only coal mining widows and coal mining wives. She was an icon and icon who drew people from all over the state and all over the country.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask the City of Waukee to stand up for their own history…This is our name; this is our history. I do feel it’s the legacy of the city council people that it’s in your hands (to) decide if you are going to be the heroes or if you are going to be the villains.”
Other residents asked the council to hold an election and let the voters be heard on the matter, while others thought the proposed name, Grand Prairie Parkway, sounded more like a West Des Moines street name rather than any in Waukee.
“If you shorten the name like EP True Parkway, Grand Prairie Parkway would be Grand P. P.,” James Nizzi said laughing. On a more serious note, Benjamin Nizzi said the name, Grand Prairie Parkway, doesn’t sound like Waukee. “I know we are looking to the future, but we are getting away from what Waukee is,” he said. “I don’t see what it has to do with what the town was built on.”
Jennifer Priest (Carlson), who grew up on Alice’s Road, said “I don’t think anybody in this room cares what West Des Moines wants, and I don’t think anybody in this room cares what they name (the road to the) left when they come off of the interstate. I do agree that if you find it difficult to make a decision on what ‘we’ the people want ‘we’ would be more than willing to vote on that.”
Concluding the discussion was Waukee resident Amy Dahlman who said the decision is “simple” when it comes to possibly changing the name from Alice’s Road to Grand Prairie Parkway.
“The fact is that you, as elected officials, have a duty, a duty to be our voice, and you need to stand up for us,” she said. “I don’t care what West Des Moines says. We are not West Des Moines; we are Waukee. We will always be Waukee. “When you go to the meetings with West Des Moines you need to speak for us. Alice’s Road should have been top of the 12 names (discussed) and it should have been fought for. You are our voice and that’s why you have the job you do because we put you there. You need to honor this woman, honor this town and its people. It’s simple.”
After over an hour worth of discussion, Mayor Peard said the council will review all the comments presented and will bring the item up for more discussion in two weeks.