Ames community to build rec center

Cavan Reagan

Although Ames can boast a number of outdoor recreation areas and parks, some citizens claim it lacks adequate indoor recreation facilities.

To meet these needs, the Ames Parks and Recreation Commission has proposed a plan for a new recreational and swimming center to the Ames City Council, but the fate of the center likely will not affect ISU recreation facilities.

“For the past two years, the Parks and Recreation Commission has been studying and gathering input on the recreation needs of the citizens in the city of Ames,” said Beth Cross, the commission’s chairwoman. “We’ve done surveys, we’ve done focus groups and we’ve spent lots of time talking to people we could partner with on a recreation facility.”

Through their studies, the commission has been able to design three plans for the new center, which is proposed for a 15-acre site on Gateway Hills Drive off Mortensen Road in south Ames.

“After two years we have come up with a wish list, so to speak, and that wish list was shared with RDG, an architecture firm who has been retained by the city of Ames,” Cross said. “The [firm] then took that wish list and gave us three proposals — one with everything we wish we could have, a more moderate plan and the third was bare bones.”

The commission met with the city council Oct. 18, but no plans have been approved thus far. Before construction can begin, the commission and council must come to an agreement on what kind of facility will best meet the needs of Ames.

Cross said the commission has looked at plans that the architects had drawn up, and they shared the plans with the city council.

“We had some dialogue and discussion so that we could then send that on to the architects to take a look at all of the points that we made in those meetings,” she said.

Citizens cited indoor exercise areas and an indoor swimming pool as the main needs, Cross said. “Residents tell us that we have beautiful parks and outdoor bike trails, but we are just lacking when it comes to indoor space,” she said.

Ames citizens have expressed needs especially for indoor volleyball, basketball, soccer and swimming facilities, and senior citizens would like to see an indoor aquatics center to fit their exercise needs, Cross said.

“There’s definitely a need to build a new rec center for the Ames community,” said Larry Cooney, ISU Director of Recreation Services. “We have a very active community. There’s not enough indoor court space [or] indoor fitness space. This city has a real deficit as far as indoor multipurpose space.”

Cooney said he does not think a new center will affect the number of students who use the campus’s facilities.

“I think the Lied Center will continue, as well as Beyer Hall and State Gym and the Forker Building,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll see any effect at all.”

If the plans are approved by the city council, Cross said construction will probably not start until 2002 or 2003.