City Council discusses new park in Ames


The city of Ames is working on hammering out details of a prospective land purchase in West Ames to build a new park.

The land purchase would be approximately 80 acres in size and is located off of Ontario Street. Approximately $1.7 million was given to the city by Geitel Winakor, a former professor emeritus at Iowa State, to be used toward the land purchase and renovations for the park. The total cost is an estimated $2.6 million.

The council made the decision to use the gifted money toward this project at its meeting back on Sept. 11.

At the Oct. 9 meeting, Nancy Carroll, director of parks and recreation for Ames, presented an official plan for the park and brought new issues to light in relation to requirements of the current land owners.

The current landowners requested the land maintain a farm-like feel, with woods and prairie land throughout the park. They also provided a list of prohibited uses for land, which includes a swimming pool, a skate park, dumping or mining, commercial building, and much more.

With the purchase of the land, the city would not be getting the 1.6 acres that make up the private residence of the current landowners. They would, however, give the city “right to first refusal.” This legal document would avoid future confusion and allow the city to have first purchasing rights on the land.

The proposed purchased land and the private property would be separated by a fence put in place by the city.

They have also asked the city make the barn and corn crib on the land structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Securing the barn would cost the city approximately $100,000; making the two structures aesthetically pleasing would bring the total cost to $250,000.

The barn sparked debate with the council, especially with Peter Orazem, city council member and university professor of economics at Iowa State.

“I think at the end of the day, if I am spending $100,000, I’d like to have a barn,” Orazem said. He asked if they could suggest a new barn to the landowners that “has the character of the original farmstead, but also is usable from the city’s perspective.”

On top of requirements for the land use, the current landowners have requested the park be named Ted and Anne Sands Nature Park, after their parents, who purchased the land in the 1950s.

Councilman Jeremy Davis asked Carroll if they had considered giving Winakor any name recognition since she originally donated the money.

“She never wanted anything named after her,” Carroll said. She explained the city had tried to give Winakor name recognition with past monetary donations without success.

Councilman Jami Larson brought up one last issue. Since the park would bear a resemblance to Moore Memorial Park, he wanted to know how the public would feel about the park.

“I just don’t know that we need another 80-acre park in West Ames,” he said.