Discussion on public safety scheduled for Tuesday’s city council meeting


Cmdr. Geoff Huff, left, and Chief Charles Cychosz present at a press conference on Monday in Ames City Council chambers in relation to a body found at Coldwater Golf Links.

Devyn Leeson

City Council will discuss and promote public safety at Tuesday’s meeting following the death of Celia Barquín Arozamena at an Ames golf course.

Coldwater Golf Links, the site of Barquín Arozamena’s death, is situated next to the woods where Collin Daniel Richards, the man charged with first-degree murder, had been camping and living at the time.

The city of Ames, city council and its mayor have been asked what policies could be enacted to prevent something like this from happening again.

“In the aftermath of the tragic event that occurred this week, a number of questions have been raised about our current efforts to promote safety in our parks, natural areas and trails,” according to city council documents. “In addition, some have asked what changes are we prepared to make immediately to further promote safety in these areas as well as into the future.”

The documents from city council say they don’t currently have a written plan, but city council and its staff are ready to discuss and form ideas at the meeting.

These comments are similar to a ones from a press release from the city of Ames which discussed collaborative efforts currently being made between the city and its community.

“As citizens of Ames, we appreciate our city because it is safe, and we value the many organizations working together to continue making Ames a safe place to live,” said Mayor John Haila in the press release. “I encourage every resident to take an active role in improving safety by alerting officials to concerns and sharing information when something seems amiss.”

One of the main questions received by the city of Ames has been in relation to homelessness, according to the press release, more specifically if action would be taken to ensure people don’t camp or live on public and private lands.

The press release addressed this saying alleged camping areas are labeled “no camping” with signs and then visited by the city to ensure people are complying if evidence of camping is reported by the community or discovered by city staff. The city said it is looking for a more proactive approach to address homelessness.

“In the past, when we’ve identified people living on public property, we have worked with the Emergency Residence Project and local social services to move them into safer housing,” said Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz in the press release. “We are reevaluating the current practice of primarily being complaint driven and are looking at ways we can routinely visit the interior of public areas without waiting for complaints.”

The areas the Ames Police Department and Ames Parks and Recreation are focusing their efforts in the meantime are on parkland and green spaces. Their safety-related concerns in these areas are around trails, lighting, monitoring wooded areas and vegetation management.

The city also said it has multiple safety initiatives currently in place. According to the press release, these initiatives include:

  • “The Ames Police Safe Neighborhoods Team is made up of five officers who concentrate efforts in ‘hotspots.’ This team focuses on problem-solving-enforcement, extra patrol and surveillance. They supplement the patrol activities of area officers.
  • “Parks and facilities undergo a Crime Prevention review. Police officers certified in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work with city staff and private entities to design and operate facilities and park areas in a safe manner. Several properties have completed a review process to become certified crime-free housing.
  • “Property managers from around the community work with Ames Police to secure their facilities. Police officers have regular communication about concerns observed by tenants, and police officers share information about potential issues.
  • “Parks and Recreation staff routinely respond to safety concerns around park shelters, restroom, parking lots and paths. That information is shared with Ames Police. Upgrades to LED lighting around the city have created greater sight distance and better visibility for users. The Invasive Species Task Force is exploring safe removal of vegetation that creates ‘cover’ or blocks visibility.
  • “The Park Watch program encourages all residents to take an active role in helping keep areas safe. If you see anyone in the parks after hours or committing acts of vandalism such as driving on the grass, damaging trees, defacing shelters, restrooms or playground equipment, please call Ames Police at 515-239-5133.”

The efforts from the city in addressing this situation are ongoing and will continue with community feedback and discussions.

“Celia Barquín Arozamena’s death is shocking, and we are looking at every community resource to address the safety of those who live in our community or visit,” Cychosz said in the press release. “We have started this review process and will continue it over the coming weeks. This will be a city of Ames effort, but also a community-wide discussion.”