Episode 5 - Biking in West Des Moines

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In the fifth episode of West Side Stories, Allison speaks with the department's Park Planner, Director, and Recreation Superintendent. They discuss how far West Des Moines’ trail system has come in 30 years, the Bicycle Advisory Commission, and future plans for trail extensions and connectors. They get a little silly at the end, though, so make sure to listen all the way through.

You can learn much more about the Bicycle Advisory Commission in West Des Moines here.

Guest Bios

Marco Alvarez-Park Planner

Marco is from Sioux City, Iowa and attended Iowa State University where he received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2007. Marco started his career as a intern Planner for the City of West Des Moines. He then was hired full time as the Park Planner for the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department in 2007. Marco resides in Clive with his wife and three children (the youngest two are twins) aged 2 and 4 years old.


Sally Ortgies - Director of Parks and Recreation
Sally began her career in the parks and recreation field in 1989 when she first interned with the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department. She then advanced through the department, becoming a Landscape Designer, Landscape Architect, and Superintendent of Parks. She now serves as the Director of Parks and Recreation. Sally earned Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Science-Horticulture degrees from Iowa State University. Sally lives in West Des Moines with her husband, daughter, and MinPin dog.

Ryan Penning - Recreation Superintendent
Ryan has over 12 years of experience in the parks and recreation field. From 2006-2018, he worked for the Ankeny Parks and Recreation Department. He began his career in Ankeny as a Recreation Coordinator, then became a Recreation Supervisor-Athletics, and finally a Recreation Superintendent. Ryan became the Recreation Superintendent in West Des Moines in June of 2018. He holds a BA degree in Leisure, Youth, and Human Services from the University of Northern Iowa. Ryan lives in Ankeny with his wife, two children (soon to be three), and English Bulldog.

Like what you are hearing? Want to suggest other topics? Have further questions?
Email Allison Ullestad, the
 West Side Stories host, at allison.ullestad@wdm.iowa.gov.

The views and opinions expressed on the West Side Stories podcast are entirely those of the host and guests who are entirely responsible for all show content, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the City of West Des Moines officials or staff. This podcast is presented and made public AS ENTERTAINMENT, in the hope that it will be entertaining and informative to the audience. It is not intended to promote any specific lifestyle, belief, religion, political affiliation or other personal practice.