Ames City Council approves contract with Iowa State for sustainability services


Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher, Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin, Ward 3 Rep. Anita Rollins and City Manager Steve Schainker during the regular Ames City Council meeting May 10.

Maximillian Lisowski

The Ames City Council approved a contract between the city and Iowa State University for $34,000.

Through its director of sustainability, Iowa State will assist in implementing conservation efforts and other sustainable practices by planning, implementing and carrying out multiple programs or initiatives, according to city documents. 

Merry Rankin, director of sustainability at ISU, updated the council on their current progress with food waste reduction.

“Since we started this program, we have collected over 60 tons of material,” Rankin said. “And what’s significant about that is from the first five months of 2022, we’ve actually collected 17 tons [of waste].”

The significant amount of waste that was reduced is also thanks to the 24/7 drop-off offered by the city, which has helped keep Ames tidy.  

The first of five programs in the newly agreed-upon contract continues the collaboration between the Public Works Department, Water and Pollution Control Department, and Iowa State to work on reuse and diversion programs related to composting and food waste. 

Another program that will be reintroduced is the Rummage RAMPage program at the Ames Intermodal Facility. This program was successful in the past and aimed at reducing the waste of usable houseware and furniture.

Effective July 1, 2022, until June 30, 2023, the city will pay Iowa State $2,833.33 for the work detailed in the agreement each month. They will be expected to help coordinate Rummage RAMPage, assist the city with sustainability efforts, and educate students and residents on the importance of proper waste disposal. 

Each party will discuss whether the agreement will be renewed for the following year before the agreement’s expiration. 

In addition to this agreement, the council unanimously approved the submittal of the COVID-19 Cares Grant application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

Housing Coordinator Vanessa Baker-Latimer followed up on a previous city council meeting where the council discussed hosting a grant workshop to fund proposals from daycare centers, food distribution and meal delivery. 

Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin said he liked what was being proposed but had some concerns. 

“Oftentimes, when we provide assistance for infrastructure or property improvement, there’s some type of recapture,” Gartin said. “So if the owner of the property then turned around and sold the property six months later, is there any kind of expectation that the taxpayer dollars are somehow preserved?”

Gartin wants to ensure businesses don’t stop offering services after receiving the grant money if they were to receive it. Seeing as a lot of money could be going towards improving already existing businesses, he doesn’t want to see the money go to waste.

Baker-Latimer assured this would not be the case for businesses in Ames as they already have rules put in place for businesses to qualify for the grant. If a business were to not maintain a specific service, such as childcare, they would have to pay the grant money back to the city to be used elsewhere.

The grant proposal that was submitted would help fund the expansion of daycares so that they would not have to shut down if there were another surge in COVID cases. Funds would also be used to help pay nonprofits providing food distribution.