An Urbandale couple has donated 12 acres — half of it a developed arboretum — in the middle of the city to be used eventually by the public.
Paul Dunlap and Jackaline Baldwin Dunlap have lived in their home on Melanie Drive for 40 years, said their lawyer and neighbor, Bill Lillis. Shortly after the couple moved in, they began buying adjacent lots.
"They worked, believe me, 24-7, to create this. They planted many, many trees and many, many bushes. It's more than a hobby. It's an avocation. It's just stunning, beautiful," he said.
The couple have always thought of someday giving the land to the city and now "someday has happened," he said.
The Dunlaps deeded the land to the city under life estates, which means that it will remain private and operated by them until they decide that should change or until they die.
The arboretum must be kept as an arboretum, according to the terms of the couple's gift. They also have donated their home, with the understanding that it will be sold, so the profits can be used to help maintain the aboretum.
Lillis said the arboretum is private and will not be open to the public while the Dunlaps are living in their home. He said the other six acres is bordered on the south and west by the railroad tracks.
"They always called it the pasture and now they call it the Dunlap Meadow," said Lillis.
The city eventually would be allowed to develop this property into a park or other public space, he said.
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