City Council hosts workshops to discuss internet service, public spaces in Campustown


City Council member Gloria Betcher at a city council meeting on Feb 28.

Chris Anderson

Ames City Council met Tuesday to host two major workshops focusing on issues facing the Ames community.

The first workshop focused on the state of internet services in Ames and how to ensure Ames residents have access to the high-speed internet they desire.

Four major internet service providers (ISPs) in Ames were present to speak at the workshop. Mediacom was present to showcase the technology its company offers to commercial and residential areas.

Among the plans Mediacom has for Ames is a fiber network expansion downtown that would allow it to offer fiber-based internet and gigabit speeds.

Mediacom is also working on expanding its gigabit speeds to residential areas in Ames.

CenturyLink was also present to talk about the internet solutions it offers to Ames residents.

The approach Centurylink has been taking in Ames is that all new developments it offers service to would receive fiber internet lines, allowing faster internet speeds.

City Council member Gloria Betcher raised the question of addressing poor speeds in older neighborhoods, like the one she lives in.

The ISPs present gave many reasons why internet speeds may be slower than advertised, including issues with a neighbor’s network or small animals chewing through internet lines.

A Mediacom representative said the company is currently working on walking through neighborhoods and looking for “leaks,” or broken lines, and addressing whether a repair was needed.

Many complaints were made regarding the reliability of these companies’ internet service, claiming the speeds they offer were not sufficient.

The ISPs responded by claiming they do not do any work if there is not an adequate return on their investment, or if there is not a sufficient market demand.

Betcher again criticized the companies for their policy, saying ISPs should focus on serving their existing customers and not focusing on new developments.

The second workshop at the meeting addressed a piece of city-owned land and the council’s plans to turn it into a public space.

The section of land is currently located in the interior of a block in Campustown, bordered by Lincoln Way on the north, Chamberlain on the south, Hayward on the west and Welch on the east.

The small section of land is currently used for parking but is noted to be in dismal shape.

Issues concerning revitalization of the area are maintaining access to businesses, maintaining parking and increasing the value of the nearby properties.

Plans were brought up to create a raised platform above the lot that would act as a public space to be used by students and other residents.

Many property owners from the area were enthusiastic of the idea, saying Campustown needs a public meeting space.

Student Body President Cole Staudt was present to voice his support for improvements to the Campustown area.

Staudt felt that the city, however, needed to take a more “holistic” approach and focus on more than just this one space.

The workshop did not lead to any concrete decision about what to do with the space, but Mayor Ann Campbell hoped it would “spark thinking” about what to do in the future.