City council approves ice arena plans

Matt Kuhns

The Ames City Council unanimously approved schematics for the new Ames/ISU Ice Arena at its meeting Tuesday.

Director of Parks and Recreation Nancy Carroll delivered a presentation to the council about the proposed plans. She said with 1,000 seats, the new arena would have a small increase in seating over the current arena’s capacity.

The new arena also would have a small increase in parking.

“We’re proposing with the new facility to add another 30 spots,” Carroll said.

At-large city council member Russ Cross expressed concern that the new arena would not provide enough opportunity for future expansion and growth in attendance at arena events.

Carroll said people working on the plan would have liked more seating and parking, but they were unable to allow that and stay within their budget.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved a resolution to contribute $5,000 to the Iowa Games each year from 2000 through 2005, though not without some hesitation.

Council member Herman Quirmbach said he has been a strong supporter of the Iowa Games but “was very disappointed in their choice of a keynote speaker [last year]: Reggie White.”

The former Green Bay Packer has made controversial statements about some minority groups. Quirmbach said selecting White as keynote speaker implied that the city endorsed his statements.

“These values are also very much at odds with the official policy of the city of Ames,” Quirmbach said.

Quirmbach said he would continue to support funding the games, but he hoped they would make better choices for future speakers.

The council also approved a resolution setting aside $4,727 from the Road Use Tax Fund for widening the Lincoln Highway upon receipt of grant money for the project. The plan would add 5-foot shoulders to allow pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the highway between Ames and Nevada.

In other business, Ames Public Relations Officer Clare Bills gave the council an overview of the 1999 Resident Satisfaction Survey, in which 99 percent of respondents judged the overall quality of services provided by the city as “very good” or “good,” unchanged from the 1998 survey.

About 500 surveys were mailed to a cross section of Ames residents in March.

“We got about 39 percent response rate,” Bills said, adding that she considered that very good for a mailed survey.

However, this year a smaller percentage of 18-24 year old residents responded to the survey.

“You will see some changes, and I think this is the reason for it,” Bills said.

Overall, she said most of the results are similar to the 1998 survey.

“Street maintenance once again is the strongest number that want to spend more,” Bills said.

When asked in what areas the Ames Police Department should put more emphasis, 54 percent of those surveyed indicated drug enforcement should get more attention.

Bills said she believes this is largely in response to the perception of state and national problems with drug enforcement rather than with the city of Ames specifically.

“National trends are manifest in our studies,” she said. “Students and low-income residents wanted less enforcement on alcohol offenses.”

One of the few areas to have a significantly lower satisfaction rating than last year was downtown parking.

The number of respondents who said downtown parking was “good” or “very good” fell from 83 percent to 69 percent.

The 1999 survey included a new question about a possible ordinance requiring a minimum level of maintenance for housing in Ames. Bills said 58 percent of the surveys received showed support for such an ordinance, while 13 percent were opposed and 29 percent were uncertain.