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City allocates funds to ice arena, address zoning

Jacob Rice
Ames City Manager Steven Schainker listens to a concerned citizen on Jan. 24.

The Ames City Council evaluated current planning and zoning ordinances and discussed what it would like to be more flexible with zoning standards. There have been several cases where exceptions to the ordinances needed to be made in special circumstances but not for a city-wide policy change.

“We’re seeing about an 80% rate of the council taking [requests for zoning requirement changes] under consideration and actually making that change,” said Kelly Diekmann, planning and housing director.

The council discussed empowering staff to make more discretionary decisions regarding ordinances to encourage efficiency when minor exceptions to policy are being made.

“I think this is a really exciting opportunity to revisit fundamentally the way in which we have decision-making and what we shift to the staff. […] I think we have good reason to trust staff,” Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin said.

The council moved to request that staff come back to the council with a recommendation to combine increasing staff discretionary capability and a rewrite of outdated zoning ordinances.

The council moved to fund an $84,065 contract for improvements to the Ames Ice Arena. Two compressors help create ice; one is worn down and no longer works. If the second compressor fails, the arena must shut down.

The manufacturer that originally made the compressor no longer produces that model, so the only option was to repair the old one. The repair costs will come from a fund built up over the years by contributions from the city and Iowa State for emergencies at the arena.

Currently, the fund has $240,353, and an extra $64,065 will need to be allocated to pay the repair costs on top of the $20,000 regularly allocated for repair costs.

Additionally, two control panels are in disrepair and have not lasted the 30+ years the manufacturer originally promised. A contract was entered into for $74,200 to repair the panels on top of the compressor repair cost. The money will also come out of the emergency fund.

The council approved a purchase agreement for the sale of a lot within the Baker Subdivision to Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa (HHCI). The purchase price for lot one is $50,000 with a $2,500 down payment.

“We’re very excited because we’re getting some homes built,” said Vanessa Baker-Latimer, housing coordinator.

This lot is part of a 10-acre plot of what used to be Ames Middle School and is now being developed into a neighborhood. The plot is required to be at least 51% affordable housing.

The Ames City Council held a joint meeting with the Ames Resident Police Advisory Committee (ARPAC) prior to their regular meeting.

The committee had its first meeting in 2022, and it has been in effect for over a year. At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council and ARPAC reviewed their annual report and discussed the change the committee wishes to enact.

“The relationship between the law enforcement and [the] general public has always been troublesome, and we—the community members—want to resolve that kind of conflict,” said Edna Clinton, vice chair of ARPAC.

ARPAC was created as an intermediary between citizens and the force.

“We really are focused on community engagement and just getting out there, kind of this fine line of advertising that says, ‘Hey, we’re here,’” said Emily Rebollozo, chair of ARPAC.


The council also:

  • Approved the first passage of ordinance on zoning text amendment for reduced affordable housing parking requirements.
  • Passed a resolution approving amendment to Urban Revitalization Area Plan, as well as the first passage of an ordinance to amend the Urban Revitalization Area boundary.
  • Approved the Major Site Development Plan and a preliminary plat for the ISU Research Park Phase III Subdivision.
  • Accepted the report of bids for the 2022-23 Stormwater Erosion Control project, approved the final plans and specifications for this project and awarded the 2022-23 Stormwater Erosion Control project to Iowa Earth Works of Huxley, Iowa, in the amount of $77,615.
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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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