Ames City Council OKs LGBTQ-themed crosswalk in Campustown, $21.2 million in bonds for Aquatics Center

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

The Ames City Council unanimously approved $21.2 million in bonds to fund the city's downtown aquatics center project at its meeting Tuesday.

The city is looking at two years without a municipal pool, once the current pool is demolished in the spring. With the passage of the bond issue, the city is one step closer to breaking ground on the project in March 2023.

No members of the public utilized the public comment portion of the meeting.

"Tomorrow, if this passes, you are going to say, 'When do we start building the facility?'" City Manager Steve Schainker said Tuesday. "There's a lot to do yet."

Ames plans to fundraise $10 million of the $31.2 million estimated cost, which has risen from $27.5 million in recent weeks. About $8 million has been fundraised to date.

The rest will need to be paid for upfront, but a state tax credit program could repay about half of the bonds.

More:Future of Ames' proposed indoor municipal pool lies with Iowa Reinvestment District program

The city could receive up to $10 million in tax rebates from the Iowa Reinvestment District, which would retroactively pay for the bonds. The state could grant Ames a higher allocation depending on how other cities fare after the final application is due in February.

The remaining $11.2 million — or more, if the district doesn't generate $10 million in tax revenues — would fall to city taxpayers.

With the worst-case scenario — in which the city does not receive the rebate — the city estimates a residential property tax increase of $21.58 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, according to city documents.

"We have to be honest: There is a possibility," Schainker said, though the staff report says Ames' application will likely be approved.

If the city receives the full allocation, the increase is estimated to be $13.14.

Schainker said the rates for commercial and industrial properties would be different. Schainker said after an August meeting that the estimates are conservative and the current cost could decrease if the market normalizes when the bidding process begins.

The pandemic has caused supply shortages and elevated building costs.

For now, the city must work out a purchasing agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation, which owns the planned location of the aquatics center, at 122 N. Oak Ave., and prepare the final investment district application for the Feb. 25 deadline.

Ames Police update on 'Policing in Ames' priorities

Ames released a report, "Policing in Ames: A Path Foward," in September 2020, in response to "an extraordinary amount of feedback" about policing after the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed.

The 45-page report contained 21 recommendations for the Ames Police Department to implement. At Tuesday's meeting, Police Chief Geoff Huff updated the council on how his department is following the report.

Five of the recommendations have been completed, including publishing the department's policy manual online and publishing quarterly reports regarding the use of force statistics with a breakdown of demographics.

The 15th recommendation — that the department make forms to document complaints more readily available — was marked as done but is not yet completed, Huff said, adding the department plans to launch an online submission portal by the end of the week.

Some recommendations await the appointment of the police department's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator. That job description is still being written, but funds to hire someone have already been allocated.

Schainker said all the recommendations should be completed by June 2022.

Read more here.

One initiative on the report is the “Ames Police Resident Advisory Committee,” which will provide the chief of police with residents' perspectives, thoughtful recommendations and an avenue to report concerns regarding complaint investigation outcomes.

The council voted in favor of the first reading of an ordinance creating the committee Tuesday. One piece of the ordinance was amended to broaden the training, which originally specified must follow the National Organization for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement recommendations.

The original wording excluded other resources available beyond this specific organization, Huff said.

The seven-member committee will be appointed by the mayor with the approval of the council. The members will serve 3-year terms, which will be staggered for the first years by giving some shorter terms, and can serve up to two terms.

Members who've served six consecutive years, excluding those given a shortened first term, cannot be reappointed. The extensive training required will give members a law enforcement background as they advise the police chief.

"I think we should just take a moment to recognize that we're really privileged to be in this position right now," Councilmember David Martin said. "I feel this commission is strengthening communities based on the existence of really good community relationships."

Other council actions:

  • The council voted to move forward with an inclusive sidewalk in Campustown. Like the crosswalk design at the intersection of Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue, the city hopes to bring LGBTQ pride colors to the intersection of Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street. The installation is planned for May 2022, after Iowa State's graduation. Read more here.
  • The council voted to instruct staff to move forward with designing an ice-skating ribbon for the Downtown Plaza. Parks & Recreation Director Keith Abraham said design concepts would be brought to the council in late October. He advocated for real ice over synthetic ice, which would require an additional $52,000 in design fees. “One of our key values is excellence," Abraham said. "I just don’t think we will be providing excellence with synthetic ice.” Read more here.

Keeping up with council:

For more information on meetings, city documents and council agendas, visit Find recordings of past meetings or watch future meetings live at

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.