Ames City Council settles on aquatic center location

Also proclaims September Suicide Awareness, Attendance Awareness and Ames Art Month.

Ames+Police+Department+Mental+Health+Advocate+Julie+Saxton%2C+Mayor+John+Haila+and+Ames+Police+Chief+Geoff+Huff+stand+in+support+of+declaring+September+Suicide+Prevention+Month+in+Ames.

Ames Police Department Mental Health Advocate Julie Saxton, Mayor John Haila and Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff stand in support of declaring September Suicide Prevention Month in Ames.

The council voted to proceed with the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) land instead of the O’Neal Park site for the Fitch Family Aquatic Center after thorough deliberation.

Aquatic Center

John Haila, mayor of Ames, asked the council to give their opinions on the IDOT and O’Neal Park sites. Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher, a proponent of the IDOT site, said most of her concerns were regarding the sustainability of the aquatic center in relation to the council’s goal of building a sustainable community.

Betcher said O’Neal park is already a vital site that does not need to be redeveloped. She added she is reluctant about the idea of paving over a park and losing all the green space.

Keith Abraham, director of parks and recreation for the city of Ames, said the chances of approving a geothermal system at the IDOT site remain low for now, which would make the aquatic center less sustainable.

Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin was the only council member to vote in opposition to the selection of the IDOT site. He cited health concerns in regard to the contamination found at the IDOT site.

“I am unwilling to put our children’s health and safety at risk,” said Gartin.

Ward 3 Rep. Anita Rollins said Gartin’s concerns stem from a lack of trust in the experts who have claimed that the IDOT site construction is possible.

“I just can’t support replacing a neighborhood park in an area that is one of the few affordable neighborhoods and injecting 49,000 travelers to that neighborhood,” Rollins said.

At-Large Representative Amber Corrieri said the Ames community deserves the aquatic center in a timely fashion, and the facility, when built, should be the best. She added that the pools and recreation centers should be built with ease, and the IDOT site is the quickest way available.

Ward 4 Rep. Rachel Junck chose the IDOT site out of what she referred to as “two bad options.”

At-Large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansan said she chose the IDOT site because she does not want to reduce public park access.

Ex-Officio and the newest member on the council, Bryce Garman, is a senior majoring in public relations at Iowa State. He said he leaned toward the IDOT site for the aquatic center.

“The amount of emails the council has gotten in regard to this I would say is pretty fascinating,” Garman said. “Just the fact that Ames residents have been so involved in this and feel like they can come to the council to voice their opinions.”

Airport Hangar

The council approved the construction of a private hangar at the Ames airport at the request of Summit Agriculture Group. They plan on demolishing the ramp service building and constructing a hangar in that place. Up to $90,000 will be reimbursed by Summit for demolishing a building. The hangar is projected to bring in a profit of $4,300 just in the first year.

“When we went forward with the airport improvements, there was some hope that it would be catalytic for future development, and this is just one more installment that we’re seeing,” Gartin said.

Proclamations

Mayor Haila made three proclamations that recognize September as Suicide Awareness Month, Attendance Month, and Ames Art month. The Memorial Union will hold a Mental Health Expo on Sept. 20.