Council set to purchase new park and lower emissions


Dj Jacobi

City Manager Steve Schainker as he sits in on an Ames City Council meeting.

Ames City Council unanimously voted to direct staff to prepare plans to purchase land for a new park Tuesday evening.

Prospective park

According to city documents, Parcel 1 is 8.6 acres, Parcel 2 is 40.0 acres, and Parcel 3 is 27.28 acres. (Courtesy of City of Ames)

The property rests at 5658 Ontario St. The city aims to purchase Parcels one and two, with staff directed to explore methods to procure access to the upper portion of Parcel three.

Keith Abraham, director of parks and recreational services for the City of Ames, said the land would serve as a community park, highlighting its service area of two miles, a prospective higher level of amenities, off-street parking, permanent restrooms as well as other amenities that will serve the greater community.

“In our Park Master Plan, we do identify a need for a park on the west end of town,” Abraham said. “Also part of the Comprehensive Plan […] the west area of Ames is identified as a ‘growth area,’ and one of the things in the Comprehensive Plan was also […] to add either neighborhood parks or community parks in those growth areas.”

Regarding accessibility, Abraham said there is a CyRide stop right outside of where a proposed entrance of the park is to be, adding the park would also be accessible by a bike path as well as an easily walkable path to Sunset Ridge Park, which lies to the south of the property.

Abraham emphasized there will be no immediate development of the site as there is no funding currently set aside for the project. He said the future park would have to be done in a phased approach with support from a variety of funding sources.

Black’D Out Books

The Ames City Council voted to move forward with the installation of Black’D Out Books, an obelisk-shaped sculpture that doubles as a free library set to be erected in Franklin Park.

Cameron Gray, the local artist behind the sculpture and a resident of Ames, requested the Council set up cameras on Black’D Out Books to deter vandalizing, citing a comment received in an article written on his efforts to actualize his sculpture which referred to his sculpture as “good for target practice.”

Gray said the comment gave off a sense of violence and a notion that there are individuals who do not want Black’D Out Books within the community, adding that he would consider it a hate crime if someone were to vandalize the sculpture with such intent.

“Understanding what this project is supposed to represent, I want to see this as a gathering place — as a safe space for people to be able to get books and not have to worry about someone trying to attack them or do something to that degree,” Gray said.

Gray said Black’D Out Books is meant to be a representation for the celebration of Blackness, and to vandalize the sculpture is not at the detriment of the art itself but for what the art represents.

The Council did not move to explore the feasibility of installing cameras for Black’D Out Books, rather opting for a camera to be installed in the case vandalism occurs.

Chevron Renewable Energy

The Council voted to extend an agreement with Chevron Renewable Energy Group — the sole supplier of 99.9 percent biodiesel (B100) — to Sept. 9, 2024.

According to a council action form, the original agreement began as a pilot project in 2019. Since then, the city has offset 352 metric tons of carbon from petroleum fuel, proving the pilot to have successfully reduced Ames’ carbon footprint.

According to a presentation shown before the Council by Corey Mellies, director of fleet services for the city, and Rich Iverson, fleet support manager for the city, in the first year of the pilot, 20,500 gallons of B100 were used, which displaced 103 metric tons of carbon. In their second year, 23,000 gallons of B100 were used, which displaced 231 metric tons of carbon.

Iverson said the city is projected to displace roughly 250 metric tons of carbon in the initiative’s third year.

“With 250 metric tons of CO² offset is like taking 250 gas cars off the road for a year,” Iverson said. “It’s like what 300 acres of forest would sequester in CO² in a year. It’s 30 household’s energy use for a year, and not burning 25,000 gallons of petroleum diesel.”

The extension of the agreement came with an amendment, which allows the energy group to sell B100 at a purchase price equal to the Des Moines area gross rack average price per gallon, as opposed to selling it at a five-cent discount as per the former agreement.

Iverson said the maintenance of B100 systems is comparable to traditional systems. He said there had been very few failures in the B100 system, and most adjustments that have been made have been adjusted through software patches.

Mayor John Haila said Ames served as the first in the nation to participate in a B100 biodiesel pilot program.

“Because of what happened here and it was being successful — because of that pilot project — it’s being rolled out around the country, and I just think we should be proud and celebrate that,” Haila said.“ It doesn’t gain any, quote, ‘points’ in our Climate Action Plan, but I think it just shows that Ames continues to be a lead when it comes to being aware of what the issues are in our climate.”

The next City Council meeting is set to take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. The meeting can be attended in the Council Chambers of City Hall or viewed online from the AmesTelevision YouTube channel.