City creates campus and community commission, moves to host concert on Cy-Hawk weekend


City Council members Tim Gartin and Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen at a city council meeting on Feb 28.

Chris Anderson

The Ames City Council approved motions regarding the hosting of a concert during the weekend of this year’s Cy-Hawk football game and established a campus and community commission Tuesday. 

The council debated an ordinance establishing a campus and community commission to work for the common interests of the city of Ames, Iowa State University and Iowa State Student Government.

The commission would consist of representatives from the business community, neighborhood association and the city. It would also include appointees from the Iowa State administration, Main Street Cultural District (MSCD), Campustown Action Association and Student Government.

The commission would offer opinions and recommendations to the council regarding issues brought up by the groups it represents.

The council unanimously voted to establish the commission.

City staff will work with the mayor in the future to communicate with the partners of the commission and discuss logistics of appointing the members and hosting meetings.

The council also debated whether to allow the MSCD to host a concert on Main Street on Sept. 8, the Friday before the 2017 Cy-Hawk football game.

The proposed concert would be titled Firefly Country Night and include a maximum attendance of 1,500 people.

The MSCD endorsed the event as a way to bring in additional business to Ames during the weekend as well as to open up attendees of the football game to attractions in downtown Ames.

Members of the council had safety concerns about hosting the concert on this date, as Cy-Hawk weekend is a time when Ames sees increased arrests and police calls. They feared a concert would further strain Ames Police resources.

Representatives from the MSCD said they would not host the event if they did not fully believe it would be responsible. They claimed they have had no police calls at the 17 events they have hosted in the past.

To further reassure the safety of those attending the concert, the organizers increased the number of security personnel, moved back the time so the event will end at 9 p.m., promised to end beer sales after 8 p.m. and will set price points at a level that caters to an older audience.

Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz layed out the issues from the perspective of the Ames Police Department. Cychosz said hosting an event like this could actually act as a benefit to safety in the city during the weekend.

The reasoning was that structured events act as a sort of deterrent from other events such as house parties, which might lead to more dangerous situations than a concert with security staff present.

Councilwoman Gloria Betcher still was concerned about the safety due to increased traffic in Ames from the Cy-Hawk football game.

“It’s not about the event per se,” Betcher said. “It’s about Cy-Hawk weekend. I don’t have doubts. I have severe doubts about holding this event on this weekend when we don’t allow other events on football weekends.”

Past riots during Veishea was a concern for Betcher. She said she doesn’t want to put the Ames Police in a situation that “reflects the unfortunate events of  Veishea.”

The rest of the council ultimately decided that the benefits of bringing in revenue to the city and steering people away from house parties pointed in favor of hosting the concert.

“My feelings are this can be a benefit, not a harm,” Councilman Peter Orazem said.

The council passed the motion, with Betcher as the only dissenting voice, to continue working out details of hosting the concert.

Another motion that generated much debate was whether to grant additional tax abatements to Barilla.

Barilla, a pasta manufacturing plant in Ames, hopes to expand its facility.

Its expansion would include additional railway tracks and additional grain silos, as well as create 41 jobs. Barilla is asking for increased tax abatements if it chooses to make the improvements to the Ames facility.

The council was put under pressure as the city of Avon, the location of Barilla’s other plant, offered Barilla tax abatements equating to $8 million should it choose to do the improvements in Avon, New York.

The abatements offered by Avon, which were 100 percent of the value of the new addition and 50 percent of the value of the existing plant for 10 years, was acknowledged as unusually large by the city manager.

Councilman Tim Gartin expressed his support for the city, offering additional tax cuts for Barilla due to the jobs the expansion would create. He noted that he saw a need for less-skilled labor in the city.

Due to Barilla being considered a “good corporate citizen” by the council, the council approved the city manager’s plan to grant a tax abatement of $3 million to Barilla if it plans to do the expansion in the city of Ames.