City officials answer questions regarding new middle school, local-option sales tax

Ben Burke

Ames city officials and about 40 residents discussed strategies for additional recreational facilities and the new middle school at an open forum on Monday.

Steve Schainker, Ames city manager, said the city still needs “much more feedback” before any specific proposal is made.

In the past, the city of Ames and the Ames school district have collaborated on several projects and have saved a total of $3 million with the joint project, he said.

These projects included the high school baseball diamond, the ice skating arena and the recently completed skateboard park.

Schainker cited inadequate gym space in the community. Ames has only four gyms while other Iowa cities, like Dubuque and Ankeny have 10 or more.

“We have had to turn away many youth sports leagues,” he said. “Some teams have to go out of town to play or even practice.”

Ames residents also asked questions concerning the proposed swimming pool and its size, which some believe is too small.

“With two pools, the time could be spread out,” said John Burke, an Ames resident.” A four-lane pool may not accommodate all types of swimmers.”

The other proposal was a middle school which would be attached to the recreation facility.

W. Ray Richardson, Ames school superintendent, said there is definite overcrowding in the Ames School District.

“Space became very difficult this year; we had to find space for our music program and we have run out of space academically also,” Richardson said.

Schainker said the total amount of money needed for the recreation center, indoor pool and outdoor aquatic center is $21.3 million. To pay for this in property taxes would require home owners to pay $100 for every $100,000 their home is worth.

Richardson said a three-grade middle school would cost $28 million.

He said the proposed 1 percent sales tax, to be voted on Oct. 8, would cover the cost of the school without property taxes included.