City of Ames to approve $280 million budget

Finn Mcnally

The Ames City Council voted to adopt their budget for the fiscal year of 2022–23. The budget totals $280,300,058 and covers Ames’ regular city services and many ongoing and future projects.

A new capital improvements plan was approved, which is a five-year plan to invest in physical improvements to the city. Some of the projects beginning this year include an indoor aquatic center, the future Ames Downtown Plaza and an Intelligent Transportation System project.

The Ames Downtown Plaza is a project intended to enhance the downtown experience. It will include an ice skating rink/splash pad, increased green space, public art and more. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, $2.35 million will be allocated to begin the construction of the plaza.

The current Ames city pool was built in 1965 and is located at Ames High School. However, the city now plans to use funds to build a new indoor aquatic center for the community. The center will include a 25-yard lap pool, a zero-entry pool, slides, a therapy pool and locker rooms. The funding for the upcoming fiscal year for this project will be $15.2 million.

Intelligent Transportation Systems is a technology that aims to improve the flow of traffic for both vehicles and pedestrians. The funding for 2022–23 will be $2.4 million and will target Grand Ave and expand north on Duff Ave.

Another project from the Capital Investment Plan is the Hayden’s Preserve Park Development. This will be a new park adjacent to the existing Ada Hayden Heritage Park. However, this project will not begin until the 2026–27 fiscal year.

Additionally, the improvements plan includes various pavement improvements around the city and $200,000 for electric vehicle charging stations.

In addition to the budget, the council heard about a potential art/parks and rec project from Cameron Gray. Gray has been an Ames resident for five years and proposed to build a little free library that is also a sculpture, which would be installed in a public park.

Gray said the sculpture would be obelisk-shaped, similar to Washington Monument, and nine and a half feet high. He said it would be built to last and be very sturdy. He also mentioned that when he went through previously approved projects, he only found one person of color.

“I really think this project can show the community, kind of like what y’all were talking about earlier today, making sure that Ames does feel like an equitable and diverse place,” Gray said. “I truly think that this project can show the community that you do see people of color, you acknowledge their presence here and you want more projects like this.”

Gray said he already has hundreds of books to use for the library that have been donated by Dog-Eared Books in Ames, as well as donations from across the country.

The council decided to have the project brought to them at a later meeting so details of the proposal could be worked out.

The next City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 22. It can be attended in person or virtually via the city’s website or youtube channel.