University releases revised Cyclone Sports Complex plans, sets second public forum

The plans for the new sports complex have undergone and will undergo re-examinations supported by the input of community members.

Jake Lovett

University and ISU athletic department officials will have a second public forum with community members Tuesday to discuss revised plans for a proposed new sports complex.

At a Dec. 8 public forum, Ames community members of the neighborhoods surrounding the Towers Residence Halls met with officials to voice concerns about the initial plans for the new facility to be built in the area.

The meeting was the first time many community members had seen or heard of the plans for the Cyclone Sports Complex, a new facility proposed to house the ISU track, softball and soccer teams.

The original plans, drafted after the Board of Regents approved project planning at their Oct. 27 meeting, upset many residents of the neighborhoods along Storm Street and Ash Avenue. Community members at the Dec. 8 meeting raised concerns about noise, traffic and light pollution based on the facility’s location along Storm Street.

Since that time, the ISU athletic department and RDG Planning and Design have re-vamped the plans, moving parts of the proposed facility further south and east, away from the Storm Street neighborhood.

“It’s important to point out that the version we shared at the first committee meeting was truly in the planning stages,” said Chris Jorgensen, senior athletic director for facilities, planning and management. “The facility has just shifted to the south in an attempt to alleviate its being right up against the neighbors on Storm [Street]. We felt it was important to give them relief from the competition facilities.”

In new plans, published in an ISU News Service news release Tuesday, the track and soccer complex have moved further south, while the softball field is now planned to be alongside Mortensen Road. The plans also feature a proposed area for ISU track and field throwing events,  such as shot put and javelin, north of the track.

The new track will surround the soccer field, and the two will be the only areas lit immediately after construction. However, construction will be done in a way that allows lighting to be added to the softball complex with later additions.

At the Dec. 8 public forum, Storm Street residents voiced concerns with lighting coming from the facility, but Jorgensen said those concerns have been addressed in the new plans.

“Where they’re positioned on that facility, we can do a lot when we work with our lighting engineers,” Jorgensen said. “There won’t be any spillover into the adjoining neighborhoods, particularly now with the way we have the facility laid out.”

With the soccer and softball fields moving south, the residents along Ash Avenue and Mortensen Road are now closer to the facility. Residents of the Ash Avenue neighborhood have expressed concerns with the aesthetics of the facility, but Jorgensen said the new layout of the facility will allow for vegetation and fencing that can hide the facility, or enhance its appearance.

“We did express that we’ll continue to work with them on what that Ash [Avenue] street corridor will look like,” he said.

While parking and traffic issues have also initiated concerns with the new facility, the proposed facility would use the parking lots at the Towers for both participants and spectators. Jorgensen said the lots, originally constructed when there were four residence halls there, have enough capacity to house the number of vehicles that are estimated to come in for track, soccer or softball events.

Jorgensen said he still expects to hear questions about how the university is planning to handle rainwater gathered at the facility.

He said the department is committed to working with the city of Ames on developing a plan to deal with rainwater without directing it into neighborhood drainage systems.

“Our responsibility is to not make the problem worse,” Jorgensen said. “There will be a lot of engineering done to ensure the rainwater capacity that site used to maintain won’t be, all of a sudden, dumped off into the neighborhood stormwater systems.”

Jorgensen said the university hopes to have plans finalized and ready to take to the March 23 Board of Regents meeting, where officials will seek approval to begin construction of the facility.

And, although Jorgensen said the plans have addressed many initial community concerns, they will be up for debate again Tuesday night as the university will seek more input from community members before finalizing those plans.

“I don’t know that we’ll please everybody,” Jorgensen said, “but I do think the changes we’ve made have shown we have a commitment to work with the neighborhood to make this a facility that’s going to be pleasing to them but also work for the student recreation services and also our intercollegiate athletic department.”