Student Government and Ames City Council host joint meeting


Student Government members listen as members of Ames City Council explain issues pertaining to both students and residents Feb. 27.

Kara Gravert

Student government discussed alternatives to trash burning, sustainable snow removal procedures, Campustown Safety Walk results and some upcoming community events with Ames City Council in their joint meeting on Wednesday night.

In the conclusion of the joint meeting, Mayor John Haila addressed recent conflicts within student government.   

“I just wanted to share with you … a little bit of concern and a little bit of being disheartened.” Haila said. 

Haila said he was surprised after reading recent articles about student government in the Daily. 

“It didn’t seem to be characteristic of what I have observed,” Haila said. “I would ask as Mayor, as a fellow elected official, to please consider … working through the issues quickly and properly.” 

Haila reminded Student Government that they represent the students and to keep a commitment to respect in the front of their minds. 

“Stop … and get back to working together to really represent the students,” Haila said. “I think you can do it.”

The council also discussed Ames issues with Student Government. 

The majority of Ames residents do not have access to recycling. For them, their garbage is burned into fuel. 

Sen. Courtney Beringer asked the council if there have been any considerations given to recycling or alternatives to the current trash burning practices at the city level.

Councilwoman Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen said the system has worked well for Ames.

“It’s a complicated thing because the recycling market these days is not as strong as it once was,” Beatty-Hansen said.

Ames utility bills show how much of a resident’s electricity is coming from trash burning. Beatty-Hansen said she has seen the efficiency of trash-burning decrease in the last year.

“I think this year we were behind because we had some erosion of tubes due to the conversion of natural gas from coal,” Beatty-Hansen said. “If we don’t burn it, the alternatives then would mean a lot of effort by the consumer to sort their stuff ahead of time.”

City council members said their most immediate goal is to get compost out of the resource recovery system. Further, city council member Chris Nelson said Ames utilities is in the early stages of considering a mass burning process that would significantly reduce gas input.

Additionally, Beringer inquired about the sustainability and efficiency of the Ames snow removal processes. 

City Manager Steve Shainker described a difficult balance between the two. 

“We could do a lot better job, but it would destroy the environment,” Shainker said. “We use very little salt. Salt destroys the environment. We have the latest equipment and the manpower we need. We just need your patience.” 

For information on what gets plowed first, whether responsibility lies on the resident or the city and policies on ice control, city council members directed students to their public works page. 

Shainker further addressed the results from last fall’s Campustown Safety Walk. Shainker said a lot of the items on the list include cracked sidewalks and ineffective lighting. 

“We found that we do this later in the fall, right at the end of the construction season,” Shainker said. “We want to try doing the walk in the spring so we have all the way through the summer and fall to address the feedback.”

The city of Ames is updating its community planning through the year 2040 and is looking to students for their input. The last comprehensive plan, adopted in 1997, was primarily concerned with land use. The city has since surpassed its growth projections. 

A student input session will be hosted by Ames Planning and Housing Development and Iowa State’s community and regional planning club on March 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union. 

Mayor John Haila said the city highly values students’ input. If students are unable to make it to the open forum, there is an option to provide input in an online survey

“This is an opportunity for you to actually have a say in the ideas and visions of Ames.” Haila said.