School board to look at other parking options

Tracy Deutmeyer

A proposal that has enraged one Ames neighborhood has promted Ames School Board members to look for new solutions other than building a parking lot on Wilson-Beardshear school grounds.

No votes were cast at the meeting Monday night, but many board members asked to look at other alternatives for a proposal to extend the parking lot at Wilson-Beardshear school to accommodate a bus used for the ECO program.

“I’m not sure we have looked at all the possibilities,” said Herb Strasser, board member.

Ralph Farrar, deputy superintendent of schools, recommended to build a 3,900-square-foot expansion that would cost about $6,000.

But neighborhood families are upset that the expansion would cover grounds that are a part of Wilson-Beardshear school.

Dick Carter, a neighbor to the park, said they don’t want the park that is a “magnet for the neighborhood,” taken away.

“We fully support the ECO system, but the park is used on a daily basis and once we put the asphalt down, it’ll never come back,” Carter said.

Carter also said the bus would be an eyesore to the neighborhood and the proposed no-curb lot would only result in more standing water on park grounds.

Farrar said it became obvious in July that the district needed more space for ECO, an ecosystem program that buses students to nature fields in Boone and Story counties.

Farrar said he met with neighborhood groups who did not want the expansion on Oct. 8 and asked for alternatives.

Farrar checked three facilities in the city to house the bus driven by Nancy Kurrle, but the city only approved one of the facilities.

Ames officials said the facility next to Riverview Park on East 13th Street was available, but Farrar said parking the bus there would be inconvenient for Kurrle.

Farrar also said another alternative, widening the driveway of Wilson-Beardshear school on the west side, would cost more than $6,000.

Many board members want to look at other possibilities, but they have not said no to the proposal.

“We have been called immoral from postcards from neighborhood families. School buses on school yards are not an unreasonable thing,” said Howard Shapiro, board member. “Nothing lasts forever. This is just about where to put a bus.”

Neighbor Craig Riecken said Shapiro only says that because “he has a rock where his heart should be.”

“This a human issue, and they never anticipated this much resistance,” Riecken said.