Pleasantville Placemaking Action Plan

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Des Moines, Pleasantville (pop. 1,692) presents itself as an alternative to city living with a strong sense of community, home to an excellent school district, and access to employment in various sectors.

Community input is the foundation of every successful action plan strategy because residents know their community best. The projects outlined in this action plan were developed through visioning sessions held with a diverse group of residents. Conversations were structured around the questions of what we have (i.e. community assets) and what is needed to attract and retain the next generation of residents, and what would boost economic development opportunities.

Steering Committee

A group of public and private leaders were invited to help guide our process. They participated in discussions about the city’s competitive issues, challenges, and opportunities and helped shape the Action Plan by reviewing and discussing proposed projects and tactics.

Name Title Company
Jane Smith Owner Local Business
Pam Bull Former City Council Member Greater Des Moines Partnership
Brandon Bingham Owner BingBang
Michelle Greene Local Realtor Iowa Realty
Tony Aylsworth Superintendent Pleasantville Schools
Tonya Cook Events Manager Iowa State Fair
Maddie Harken
Don Dursky Chamber Director Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce
Jordan VanNess Fire Chief/CIty Councl Pleasantville and Des Moines Fire Dept.
Steve Marsh Mayor Iowa Water
Bill Moore Former-Mayor
Rhonda Zimmerman Owner Checkerboard
Steve Rowe Retired
Dennis Murphy Retired
Brad Cowden
Josh Cook Self Employed Construction/Farming


The Action Plan

Further input was provided through one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders as well as conversations with the Steering Committee members. After much discussion and review, the following projects were determined as the top priorities to be addressed by this plan:

  • Collaboration Through Collective Impact
  • Downtown Building Revitalization
  • Square Beautification
  • Housing
  • Co-op Grocery Store Model
  • Coworking Space

Alchemy Community Transformations’ model of economic development utilizes the principles of PLACEMAKING to improve the quality of life for a community, help grow its population, and attract development opportunities. These proposed priority projects were selected with the vision of revitalizing Pleasantville through CATALYTIC PROJECTS surrounding the downtown square as the cultural hub of the community.

Since resources are limited, it is the intent of this plan to recommend projects that can be implemented in a two- to five-year time frame as catalysts for further development. For those reasons, there were a number of additional projects that were considered, but ultimately didn’t make the final cut. Use the link below to learn more about these potential projects.


Pleasantville has several amazing civic organizations; they can be even more powerful and effective through collective impact.

Pleasantville’s downtown square is the heart of the community; filling available spaces can bring catalytic change to the community.

Pleasantville Downtown Grocery (Vacant)
Pleasantville Downtown Rendering

Small beautification efforts can make a huge impact on public perception. We have phased recommendations for maximum effect.

Lack of median range homes for sale and rental properties was one of the highest ranked issues facing Pleasantville.

Aerial Houses
Fresh Food

The closing of Pleasantville’s grocery store has forced residents to travel elsewhere for fresh produce and meal options.

Other Potential Projects

Historic School Site: The former Pleasantville Elementary School located at 405 Monroe E is considered a community treasure among many residents. During the placemaking process the City obtained this property and hired a consultant to complete a structural assessment to determine the feasibility of a renovation. If preservation is deemed feasible, there are several resources to support this process. The City Council is currently reviewing this report to determine next steps. See Appendix C – Funding Programs & Historic Tax Credit Guide for a list of resources to be considered.

Historic School Site

New Restaurant/Taproom with craft beers – Jessica Dunker, restaurant expert on our team, thought a new restaurant with craft beers would be well received by the community. However, our team as well as the Steering Committee members were concerned about the negative impacts to established restaurants. We felt there was a greater community need to replace the goods and services lost with the closure of the grocery store.

Splash Pad combination ice skating rink – The closure of the golf course’s pool during the placemaking process created the opportunity to consider a new recreational amenity that could be utilized throughout the year.

Bike trail to neighboring communities– While local pedestrian trails are being constructing throughout Pleasantville, the ten-year-old trail initiative to connect Marion County communities to Lake Red Rock was deemed more appropriate as a county-wide initiative.

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