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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The owners of a popular central Iowa park known for winter sledding and tubing have announced that Polk County plans to buy the park.

Polk County will buy Sleepy Hollow Sports Park in Des Moines and take over winter sports operations at the park in 2023, the Des Moines Register reported Monday. Current owners Rick and Mary Flatt plan to run the park's camping operations and special events such as concerts and Halloween attractions that year.

Polk County will take over all operations in 2024. The 76-acre facility opened in 1994 on Des Moines' east side and is a favorite venue for families, birthday parties, business outings and church retreats.

With the announcement, the county pledged to launch a $3 million fundraising campaign to pay for improvements at the park, including development of a full-service campground with 60-camping spots, expanded electric facilities, a new shower house, restroom building and registration booth.

The county would also make improvements to the existing ski lodge, add a new cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and improve access to the park's pond for fishing and other programs and convert the pond to an ice skating rink during winter, among other improvements.

Sleepy Hollow did not open for last winter for sledding and tubing because of the COVID-19 pandemic — the first time in the park's 27-year history not to open for a winter season.

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