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City council approves writer’s collective grant, land donation

Jacob Rice
Ames City Council member Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen speaks to a citizen about bike safety on Jan. 24.

The Ames City Council heard a request from the Ames Writers Collective to alter the purpose of a grant they received in 2022 and decided to allow the Collective full use of the grant.

The grant amounted to $5,590 to purchase furnishings for their property at 409 Douglas Ave. The renovations that were supposed to occur in the building did not happen due to failed attempts to communicate with the landlord.

Because the grant was not used, Ana McCracken, the founder and president of the Ames Writers Collective, is asking that the money be spent on chairs, tables, a moveable stage and one small free library for a total of $3,223. Another alternative was to refund the money for a tent purchased last year that cost $2,642.

The council approved the motion for full payment up-front with a renewed subscription for the next five years with Granicus, LLC, to improve the City of Ames website.

The five-year contract the council signed would cost at most $83,412.54, and a renewed subscription would be necessary each year to keep the website running, with the cost per year averaging around $40,000.

According to city documents, the city manager recommended purchasing the improvements and paying for the yearly subscription for “a new interface to be deployed for website visitors that will better match their desires.”

The council approved a motion increasing the budget for a project with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

At the last city council meeting, the council approved a contract with Power System Engineering to update the current meters for $109,364. However, the original proposal did not include travel expenses to monitor the meters. The council passed a motion with an updated budget.

A donation was offered to the council of 0.60 acres of land connected to Munn Woods, part of Emma McCarthy Lee Park.

The current property owners, Iowa State Sen. Herman Quirmbach, Leigh Tesfatsion, a former professor at Iowa State in economics, and William Gutowski, a professor at Iowa State in geological and atmospheric sciences, gave the space to the city to be incorporated into the park, but with two stipulations.

They requested that the land remain “undeveloped” or free from permanent shelters and pavement. They also requested that the city wait to put up any signage or entrance for 20 years or after they vacate the property, whichever comes first.

“Thank you for your generous offer […] this is a generous, really exciting connection point,” Mayor of Ames John Haila said.

Fitch Family Indoor Aquatic Center

The council approved a motion to move forward with plans to build the Fitch Family Indoor Aquatic Center (FFIAC) and expressed their support for the construction.

The council also approved Impact 7G’s recommendations to make the build safer, and council members took their time detailing each of the seven safety concerns that Impact 7G discussed.

The council said it was a priority of this council that the build was safe, cost-effective and sustainable. More discussion will likely take place at a later date due to some unanswered questions.

The final concern is funding. Story County has offered to pay $500,000 in funding toward the construction of FFIAC, but in return, they ask that the residents of Story County pay the same fee for the services at the aquatic center that Ames residents pay.

The proposal was amended to say Story County residents would pay the discounted fee for the next ten years.

The council heard a proposal for the first amendment to the fiscal year budget adopted for the 2023–24 year. The first amendment usually takes place in the fall, and the suggested amendment was a budget increase of $113,200,264 to cover costs not anticipated when the budget was first created. The budget was approved without dissent.

In August, the city council approved a plan for improvements to the water treatment plant and for adding fencing around the property.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council members heard a bid on the cost for improvements, amounting to $78,247.60 from American Fence of Iowa, Inc., and although Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin brought up a concern about the number being only 50% of what they expected to pay, the council decided to approve the bid and move forward with the improvements.

The council heard a proposal to extend the sanitary sewer in the city’s northeast section to promote residential and business growth. The American Rescue Plan Act funds the project and the proposal was moved to carry without disagreement.

The council ruled in favor of a request from the JT Warehouse Subdivision to approve a final plat.

To be approved, they must meet certain criteria, including design standards, city ordinances and other requirements

The council moved to conduct an energy audit of new buildings before they were built and to conduct an energy audit of old buildings to find a standard. The motion also judged how much energy they used while discussing the Downtown Urban Revitalization Area plan and the requirements needed for tax exemption, such as location and the building’s use.

With these items added, a motion was approved for a public hearing Oct. 10 to discuss the amendments and the Downtown Revitalization Area plan.

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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