Council talks renovation

The Ames City Council met Tuesday to discuss the development of the Ames Community Sustainability Task Force and the North Grand Mall.

Ames Community Sustainability Task Force

The City Council approved the charge for the Community Sustainability Task Force.

The council approved a contract at its June 22 meeting that will enlist the services of Merry Rankin, Iowa State’s sustainability director, to lead the task force, which will work to decrease the city’s energy consumption.

The charge was amended to include 17 members, after Matt England, ex-officio student representative, suggested to include the Government of the Student Body’s director of sustainability. The other members will come from seven different sectors: business, building contractors or developers, residential, religious organizations, civic organizations, school districts and non city of Ames government.

The initial charge is for the first year of the task force. Steve Schainker, city manager, stressed that the charge can be changed in the future, but the initial goals need to be narrowly focused. There was concern expressed at the June 22 meeting that the task force should have a broader focus. However, the city and Rankin wanted to keep it narrow so the city could accomplish some things and not overstretch the time of Rankin.

“You can modify as you go along,” Schainker said.

Schainker said they will begin the application process soon, and Rankin plans to start meetings around the time school starts in August.

The task force will focus specifically on reducing electricity consumption and creating strategies to achieve those goals.

North Grand Mall

The city also approved a six-month extension for reconfiguring the parking lot of North Grand Mall.

The reconfiguration for the lot was originally to be a part of the new lifestyle center the mall planned to construct. However, because of the recession, the mall has not pursued the lifestyle center, but is in talks with a few retailers to fill in some of the existing retail space.

Ames resident Diane Huffman was not happy the North Grand development was stalled once again.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in this mall,” she said.

She said the mall looks the same as it did when it opened, and the lack of quality retail in Ames is costing the city money, in terms of potential tax dollars.

“The party is over, it is time to say no,” she said.

Several of the councilmen shared in Huffman’s frustration, but said there weren’t a lot of alternatives.

Jeremy Davis, city councilman, said although there was the option to cash in the bond the mall put up as collateral to reconfigure the parking lot itself, it wouldn’t make sense to change the parking lot for a project that is no longer going to happen.

The council unanimously passed the extension.