Second meeting set to discuss Cyclone Sports Complex

Jake Lovett

With a revised plan, university and ISU athletic department officials are hoping the second public meeting to discuss plans for the proposed Cyclone Sports Complex will be less contentious than the first.

Tuesday night, officials will meet publicly for the second time with residents of the community after original plans brought criticism from community members living near the proposed site, east of the Towers residence halls.

Since that time, the university has tweaked the plans, shifting the location of lighted fields and building structures farther to the south to address some community concerns such as noise, light pollution, traffic and water drainage.

“We think we’ve struck at a reasonable compromise and a plan that will work that will minimize the negative impact on the neighborhood,” said Vice President of Business and Finance Warren Madden on Wednesday. “Every plan can be improved. This is still a plan; it’s not the final document.”

The changes came due to community criticisms that noise, light and traffic would all be a problem for the community along Storm Street. However, residents along Ash Avenue still have concerns with the plans, particularly regarding how the university hopes to handle water drainage from the site.

August’s heavy rainfall pushed water off the site and over Ash Avenue, onto properties along the street.

“It’s pretty clear that we already have an overloaded system,” said Michael Burkart, Ash Avenue resident and associate professor of geological and atmospheric sciences. “So, adding more discharge to that is only going to make things worse.”

Madden and Ames Public Works director John Joiner said the university and city have been in discussions to address the drainage situation, and Madden said the university is committed to meeting Department of Natural Resources and city standards for the redeveloped site.

Chris Jorgensen, associate athletic director of facilities, planning and management, said the changes to the plans show the university’s and athletic department’s commitment to working with the community on their concerns.

However, Burkart said the university had seemed less receptive.

“I think they would like to get us off their backs,” Burkart said. “That’s the attitude I’ve felt. [ISU Athletic Director] Jamie Pollard, I think, has been pretty dismissive. Warren Madden is trying to diffuse the situation.”

Pollard declined to comment prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Burkart also said he, and others in the Ash Avenue community, felt the city had been “passive” in dealing with the street’s drainage situation.

Madden and Ames City Manager Steve Schainker could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Earlier, Madden said that Tuesday’s meeting will come as another opportunity for the community to be heard.

“If we get some suggestions from the neighbors that are ones that can be implemented and not significantly impact the ability for the programs that are out there to do what they’re trying to do, we’ll certainly consider those,” Madden said.

Residents had wondered earlier why the complex — to be the new home of the ISU softball, soccer and track teams — could not be constructed on the existing Southwest Athletic Complex, the current home of the ISU softball team. Madden said a combination of an additional $2.5 to 3 million cost and the loss of recreational areas like Capp Timm Field — the home of the ISU baseball club — were major reasons why the Southwest site was not considered.

The Iowa Board of Regents approved planning of the facility in October, but construction cannot begin until the plans are fully approved by the board. Madden said Wednesday that the university hoped to present the plans at the board’s March 23 meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Knapp-Storms Dining Complex. It is open to the public.