City council approves lowering parking rates in downtown area, increases new fee for game-day parking violations


Ames Police Chief Charles Cychosz addresses City Council and Ames residents about safety concerns and community resources on Sept. 25, 2018, at Ames City Hall.

Talon Delaney

The Ames City Council approved multiple changes to the city’s parking policies, including lowering the rates on downtown parking meters and a new fee for game-day parking violations in certain neighborhoods.

The game-day parking ordinance will increase the illegal parking fee from $20 to $40 in neighborhoods near Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum. Prior to the ordinance, legal parking cost as much or more than tickets for illegal parking.

Ames Police Chief Charles Cychosz presented the plans to the council and said the ordinance presented police staff with the task of informing the public of the policy changes.

“It will be a challenge for us to educate all the visitors coming to those games, and that’s what neighborhoods have asked us to work on,” Cychosz said. “Our goal is to encourage people to use the legal, paid parking lots. Tickets will contain information about where to park legally.”

Other steps will be taken to inform the public, such as press releases and more than 500 roadside signs.

The council approved the ordinance unanimously after Cychosz indicated that it can easily be modified in case it displaces illegal parking instead of encouraging legal parking. The project will cost $23,000, which will come from the road use tax fund.

The council also approved $63,216 to fund enhanced parking patrols throughout the year in the neighborhoods surrounding campus.

Patrols were first increased in the area in January 2018 and continued into November 2018. In this time there were 13,177 parking tickets issued, or 56 percent of total Ames parking violations.

It is expected for the amount of citations in this area to decrease as time goes on.

“Initially, we see more citations with increased monitoring,” Cychosz said. “But when people become educated about this place being monitored, those citations will go down.”

The council approved a resolution to reduce the parking meter rates in the downtown area from $1 per hour to 50 cents in a 4-2 vote. Ward Four Rep. Chris Nelson and At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri were the two dissenting votes.

“When we made the decision to change the rates, we made what I thought was a fiscally responsible decision over many meetings,” Corrieri said. “We’ve started a trend at council where we continue to revisit decisions we’ve made, and I think if we continue down that path we mitigate the work and decisions of our staff.”

She also said changes to the parking meter rates could be discussed in better detail at an upcoming neighborhood summit meeting.

The parking meters will be changed to accommodate the new rates no later than April 1. Damion Pregitzer, a traffic engineer with the Ames Public Works Department, said the winter weather freezes the meters and prohibits immediate change.

“It may be done sooner,” Pregitzer said. “We have to go into the parking meters individually. It usually takes around a week [to complete the transition].”

Gary Youngberg, owner of Ames Silversmithing, supported the resolution the council accepted.

“If the rate was changed to 50 cents per hour … I think you’d see an improved attitude in the downtown that has been absent for sometime,” Youngberg said.