Ames Downtown Plaza Plan sees budget shortfalls | News

City Manager Steve Schainker and Mayor of Ames Join Haila in listening to advice from city staff at the April 26 meeting.

Ames City Council found a budget shortfall in the Downtown Plaza development plan after reviewing five construction bids for the project due to rising costs.

The new totals resulted in a shortfall of $959,479. City staff informed council that all offers were realistic and that a new offer at another time was unlikely to result in lower costs. Total funding for the entire project is $4,555,121 and the estimated project total could be as high as $5,514,600.

The Downtown Plaza plan for the town of Ames will create a water flume and spray park and ice skating ribbon. The plan will also establish a hard and green landscape area with benches, a small performance stage, universal year-round public restrooms and space for food trucks.

The only modification possible to respect the initial budget is the elimination of the ice component, the cost of which is estimated between 1.2 and 1.3 million dollars. The ice component is an asset for the four-season vision of the plan and was therefore not the preferred action plan.

Ward 2 Representative Tim Gartin said he supports the development of Downtown Plaza, but he reminded council of the potential climate action plan expenses.

“So at some point the advice, if you believe it [the Climate Action Plan’s expenses] type of investment, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions,” said Ward 2 representative Tim Gartin. “You’re going to have to choose between equipment like this and investing for the climate.”

Council accepted the tender report and asked city staff to come up with recommendations to reduce costs and find additional funds. Mayor John Haila said the council remains consistent with its priorities for addressing climate change and development in the town of Ames.

After selling alcohol to minors twice, the council voted to deny renewal of the beer license and 12-month liquor license for Wasabi Ames and Mongolian Buffet. The Ames Police Department recommended allowing businesses to apply for a six-month license. This will allow businesses and law enforcement agencies to assess the changes needed to prevent sales to underage customers attempting to purchase alcohol.

Ames City Council heard a report assessing possible safety improvements at the intersection of Bloomington Road and Fletcher Boulevard. The existing crosswalk is Federal Highway Administration compliant.

The motion was brought to council after the executive director of Friendship Ark Homes and Community Services asked the city to consider additional security measures at the intersection.

During the meeting, several members of the community spoke about the issue, informing the council of vulnerable pedestrians in the area, including people with disabilities and the elderly.

Potential changes to improve safety would be the establishment of a pedestrian refuge island between two-way streets. Although the width of the streets will allow for a turning lane and the pedestrian island, the addition would require construction outside of the current capital improvement plan. For this reason, city staff recommended that the addition take place with a larger-scale project.

Council voted to accept the report and asked city staff to include the improvements in future capital improvement plans while investigating the possibility of a speed feedback sign for the area.

Bryce Garman, a senior public relations specialist, has been appointed to the Ames City Council. Garman was elected by the Iowa State student government to fill this role.

The lights above US Highway 30 have recently been used for reconnaissance purposes. To maintain consistency in this use, the city has developed criteria to ensure these light displays are used for acceptable purposes. The board approved the inclusion of the Ames Bandshell in the light display policy to ensure consistency of use.

Criteria include commemorating celebrations recognized by local, state, or national proclamations, as well as supporting local sports or honoring individuals who have had a profound impact on the surrounding community.

The board also approved an additional provision granting them the discretion to determine which events, activities or milestones merit recognition outside of the listed criteria.

The council also approved an amendment to the criteria proposed by Ward 3 representative Anita Rollins to ensure diversity is considered when evaluating light display use.

“The diversity of our community is a strength,” Rollins said as he read his amendment to the council. “In affirmation of this strength, the Council will strive to overcome historical biases by carefully considering the ideas, cultures and experiences it affirms, and does not affirm, in its decision on the uses of this Politics.”

The Ames Town Council meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Ames Town Hall. The meeting can be viewed via the Ames Town Council YouTube.

David H. Henry