CyRide receives more than $400,000 in city funding for flood repairs

Alexander Hutchins

The CyRide building is 80 percent recovered from the flood damage it received Aug 11.

Sheri Kyras, CyRide’s director of transit, said Tuesday at the Ames City Council meeting that recovery crews will work opposite mechanics to allow services to continue. The office area is being repaired after the flooding, and rebuilding will be necessary to reopen the offices.

The City Council also approved funding of CyRide repair projects that total $445,227. The money would be used to rebuild the CyRide office building and other emergency repairs. Kyras said the building will possibly include flood mitigation efforts with the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The council held a special meeting of the conference board to hear Greg Lynch’s recommendation that the county geographic information systems coordinator’s funding to be decreased to 5 percent.

Only 1 percent of the current Destination Iowa State coordinator’s efforts are devoted to Ames.

Others shared concern.

“The real issue is that it’s more or less a conference fee you’re picking up,” said Wayne Clinton, county employee. He asked for a clarification on the dollar amount that would be funded to the GIS technician.

Lynch apologized, saying he did not bring the exact amount. He said he would have to go back and consult the data for exact monetary values.

Currently, only Ames and the County Assessor’s Office pay for the mapping. Other cities within the county pay none of the cost. Ames’ unique situation is due to having its own assessor’s office.

“Is it also fair to assume that under the current agreement that the county could amend the 28E agreement to give you only 5 percent of the vote?” Clinton asked.

He said in the past there was an equal voice between the city and the county assessor, but with financial adjustment there may be a reason to reduce the say given to the city.

Lynch said he had no qualms with the city’s say adjusted to reflect funding, but the study showed it would be more reasonable for Ames to provide funding in line with it’s usage.

The county has been conducting meetings to assess handling a possible decrease in funding from various sources. Clinton said he would report back on the discussion at the City Council meeting, as the county board has made no firm commitment other than finding a method to fund itself.

Lynch said the plan would not change the function or funding of the base map, merely the city’s funding of the County Assessor’s Office. Should new services come up, funding from Ames could be made available if it falls within rates reflective of the city’s use of the County Assessor’s Office.

Jami Larson, council member, said he was concerned that if the county began paying the county only for the services used the possibility arises of the county reciprocating only what is paid for and the county may begin to be treated like any other service provider. Many of the council member’s expressed concern due to the difficulty of properly examining the decision without actual monetary data available.

Larson said he felt the current issue is more political, dealing with how the county and city regard each other. He preferred a solution that would not mistreat the county, and said it may in fact be better for the county and city to move apart.

Clinton said that the offer to fund 5 percent of the costs was, in his opinion, laughable. He said he hoped the relations between the city and county could be improved. The motion on GIS funding failed to get a second.

Larson said the county office originally spent almost 50 percent of its time on Ames work, but over time the county officer has begun to devote much more of their time to the county’s needs.

The motion passed and the special session was adjourned.

The regular meeting began with a proclamation celebrating 11 days of global unity. Two members of the 11 days of global unity planning team were present for Mayor Pro Tem Riad Mahayni’s reading of a pronouncement celebrating diversity in the community and the building of peace in communities by sharing experiences.

Eleven days of global unity is celebrated from Sept. 11 to Sept. 21 to inspire ways for people to live in peace with each other. Entertaining, informational and informal events will occur during these 11 days.

The second major item was the presentation of the Ames Economic Development Commission Annual Report. Dan Culhane, the president of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, gave City Council members copies of the annual report and said he was greatly pleased with the cooperation on behalf of the city of Ames.

Culhane said the Chamber has seen new employers enter the Ames economy to help in a time of slow economic development. He mentioned the Ames Business Park as a major success and the businesses located there have been able to grow.

There was a highly successful virtual reality industry conference created in part by Iowa State University, Culhane said.

“Historically, Ames always has above average economic activity,” Culhane said, due in part to the city’s position as a university town.

Culhane said the Chamber of Commerce has a very positive relationship with the City Council, and the positive support given to companies locating to Ames has made a very positive impact in the community.

Culhane did say Ames is missing opportunities for new employers due to a lack of space for new industries at the business park. Ames is too affluent to merit federal resources to build a new business park, Culhane said. Infrastructure investment could lead to a major increase in new employers.

The consent agenda was passed with item 12, on the Resource Recovery Plant system, called into question by council member Matthew Goodman.

A representative from the Resource Recovery Plant is working to reduce the amount of waste sent to the Boone County Landfill. The investment will allow more material to be used as fuel for the power plant with less processing.

Item 12 also passed.

For the open forum, two citizens voiced concern for the city’s need to manage its watershed more diligently in the future and on the expenditure of public funds to assist businesses that build in the flood plane.

Agenda items 17-21, all dealing with liquor licenses, were passed unanimously.

A three-part item to secure space for the “Welcome to Ames” event on Friday, Aug. 27 was passed. The event is to allow ISU students to meet the City Council. It will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Welch Avenue fire station.

The sale of bonds not to exceed $6,690,000 was approved. The city has a AAA bond rating and the sale drew numerous interested banks due to the city’s excellent bond rating.The council unanimously approved a public works project to authorize emergency repairs to a water main on South Duff Avenue and a $45,670 contract with Ames Trenching for the repairs.

The council heard a presentation on rezoning a split parcel at 712 South 16th street. “I’d be excited about anything that could get that fourth lane paved on South 16th street,” Larson joked.

Though the resolution would remove commercial zoning from the highway, the council members agreed that the development would be beneficial. The motion passed unanimously. The council then heard a resolution modifying the land use policy plan at 1010 South Duff Avenue.

Robert McCarley, Ames resident, said that he has seen floodwater enter the farmland near his property and the water seems to be higher each time a flood occurs.

He said this is a pattern coming about due to climate change, and the more construction occurs on flood planes the more flooding the community is likely to experience in the future. “Why do we want to build further on the South Duff floodplain?” McCarley said.

Council members debated the utility of opening the land to development given currentdifficulties with the flood plane, and the resolution passed.

The council heard a status report on the Kellogg/Clark Corridor Study.

The study explores the potential of redevelopment for properties in the Kellogg/Clark corridor to encourage a more downtown style of commercial development. Parking availability and visibility is a chief concern of the development strategy. The chief strategy is to bring main street down to Lincoln Way to double the amount of extant commercial space in the area. The plan would also create new pedestrian space to add to the downtown ambience and commercial potential. The plan is not a proposal, but merely an idea generator to help suggest a potential direction for that area of town and to suggest possible avenues for further development. The motion passed unanimously.

A brief recess followed the long discussion of the Kellogg/Clark Corridor Study. The council heard a presentation on improving relations with developers. The plan will help to provide

facilitators to develop communication between investors and the city. The council then heard a presentation from a member of the Dorsey & Whitney, LLP, to provide associate attorneys under professional assistance to help with legal matters the city encounters. The program will operate for six months with an opportunity to renew after its completion.

The program will also offer valuable courtroom experience to new lawyers working for the law firm. The motion was unanimously approved.

A hearing on adoption of the Internal building code had no speakers, and both sections of the item passed unanimously. Ordinances to approve $563,197.29 for a new substation switchgear was approved, as well as resolutions approving bids for materials for work on the Vet Med substation. An ordinance to change local standards on the city lighting code to lighting industry standards was also passed unanimously.