Miracle playground construction and Guest Lodging zoning ordinance delayed


Taylor Hagie/Iowa State Daily

Tim Gartin, 2nd Ward, provides input on the current issue being discussed at the Ames City Council meeting on April 23.

Kara Gravert

Ames City Council did not pass the Guest Lodging zoning ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting, amid concerns it would not be enforced. The ordinance would have required short-term rentals (less than 31 day stays) to operate as Guest Lodging properties.

Concerns with the enforcement of such an ordinance lingered within the council’s discussion. Second Ward Rep. Tim Gartin expressed apprehension towards enforcement mechanisms.   

“I hate to bring this up, but are we really going to enforce this?” Gartin said. “I don’t want to pass things if we aren’t seriously going to enforce them.”

The ordinance will be revisited in upcoming council meetings after ordinance language is revised and aligned with the city’s intent to remain out of landlord-tenant relationships.

The council pushed its vote on the construction of the Miracle Playground and Field to next Tuesday. The council is set to move forward with construction if the Ames Foundation can guarantee that funding for the project will be met.

At present, a volunteer steering committee has raised $1.8 million of the estimate $2.1 million in costs. Constructing the all-inclusive playground cannot begin until all project funds are in hand. If the Ames Foundation fails to guarantee complete funding, construction may be delayed, and the cost of materials and services will likely rise.

Despite the funding shortage, foundation and council members alike are optimistic.

“This is going to prove to be an incredible asset to the community and an amazing opportunity to individuals and families with disabilities,” At-Large Representative Amber Corrieri said.

As state law prohibits cities from bidding for public improvements, the city cannot offer any funding towards the project.

The council received a year-end sustainability report from Merry Rankin, director of sustainability at Iowa State University.

Rankin cited results from a beneficial waste study  indicating a need for the beneficial use of organic material. Currently, organic material is considered a non-beneficial material to the city’s process of burning waste into fuel for electricity. Starting July 1, the Resource Recovery Plant will be piloting a food waste diversion program.

The program allows community members to pay as they compost. Individuals can purchase a four-gallon bucket which comes with a prepaid drop-off punch card. Participating individuals can drop their compost off at either the Resource Recovery Plant or City Yard Waste.

In addition to the car drop-off line service, the Resource Recovery Plant will be pulling bicycles to be repaired and distributed to individuals with transportation needs.

The city voted to renew its annual contract with Rankin for the amount of $25,000. The contract requires no more than 480 hours of Rankin’s time. 

Mayor John Haila proclaimed June as Watershed Awareness Month, in an effort to promote education on how people impact the health of watersheds through their everyday activities. The proclamation aims to protect the health of the public, fisheries, wildlife and agriculture by improving the health of our watersheds.

The Council is set to meet again at 6 p.m. on June 18, in the Council Chambers.