City Council discusses research park expansion, bicycle options presented


Suhaib Tawil/Iowa State Daily

Tim Gartin, member of City Hall, debates annex laws on April 22 at City Hall in Ames.

Kelsey Batschelet

Ames City Council discussed the proposal to annex south Ames at the city council meeting April 22.

The annexation was requested by the ISU Research Park, ISU Foundation, Hunziker Apartments, Reyes and RDJ Holdings, LLC. The annexation would allow the ISU Research Park to expand 200 acres and would allow the development of 20 acres of housing designated for low-residency.

The council is concerned with creating property “islands,” unincorporated land that is surrounded by annexed land.

Verle Burgason of Burgason Enterprises, LLC, indicated that he is interested in joining the annexation. That would add 49 acres to the annexation but would require the participation of five other properties in order to avoid creating an island.

“You get a sense tonight of how complicated this whole process is,” councilman Tim Gartin said.

The current boundaries of the annexation includes a number of acres of land that are the property of non-consenting landowners.

“We don’t really gain anything by being annexed,” said Daniel Fuchs, a non-consenting property owner.

The council passed the motion for staff to initiate annexation.

“I am looking forward to having a public hearing so we can get a complete perspective,” Gloria Betcher, councilwoman, said.

The design plans for the Ames Community Development Park were discussed, as were the components of the covenant that rules the building of exterior designs.

A staff report on multi-modal transportation in Campustown addressed the safety concerns of bicyclists and vehicles. A survey conducted in May 2013 that received 500 responses from bicyclists and business owners was used to help focus the study on bicycle-vehicle collisions and prevention in Campustown.

Options such as installing bike lanes or bike sharrows on Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street, installing bike detection sensors at intersections and installing wayfinding signage were presented to the council. The bike lanes would affect parking in the district, which was noted as a challenge.

The plans acknowledged that other cities have confronted these types of problems before, and considered the solutions that have been implemented in other towns. The staff proposed testing different solutions in controlled situations before making major changes to infrastructure.

“I’m generally very much in support of the ideas that staff has laid out,” said Jill Zeal, a member of Ames Bicycle Coalition.

The council also heard and approved the request for a waiver of parking meter fees made by Ryan Francois, senior at Iowa State, for the “bloccupied” art installation. The temporary installation will take place April 24 – 27 on Kellog Avenue.

Lissandra Villa, a junior at Iowa State, was welcomed as the ex-officio student liaison to the City Council.