shopping carts

2015-2020 Capital Improvements Plan

The Ames City Council begins at 6:30 PM  Jan 27th.  The agenda includes:

  • Item 26 -- 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). The City Manager's letter is a good summery of the CIP. I recommend reading it. One item in which I have been interested is the flood mitigation project. I have been very skeptical is the flood mitigation project. It is a 4.8 million dollar project primarily intended to protect many businesses on South Duff as well as The Boys and Girls Club and some rental properties, as well. It will drop the flood level in this area 2' during a 100 year flood. It also will have a slight benefit to Hunziker Youth Sports Complex.

    When Walmart decided to invest in property on South Duff I would think they considered the flood burden on that property and were ready to protect that investment. I am not sure if it is appropriate that property tax dollars from the entire community be used for this improvement. 

    There are times when a community should come together and share the price of a catastrophe. The Emerald Ash Borer is a great example. Here you see some taxpayers benefiting more than others while we all will contribute. In this case, however, full understanding of the costs has come years after the time when planting a tree could have prevented such costs. The financial burden, on so many of our residents, could not have been reasonably anticipated decades ago, so we will work together as a community to solve this problem.

    In contrast the investments on South Duff have been made in spite of and with complete awareness of the flooding risks associated with that area. Property owners have been offered FEMA buyouts and have refused them. I think the financial risks associated with this flooding should be borne by those who stand to reap dividends from those risks; the businesses who stand to gain from the project. Not every taxpayer should have to bear this burden, as the risk has been well understood since Save-U-More flooded in 1993.

    In the 2014 Citizens Satisfaction Survey, of 41% of residents agreed there should be no development in the flood plain and 55% felt there should be no incentives for such development. While this project is not an incentive project, it certainly feels like one to me.

  • Item 27 -- Discussion of City's Branding efforts. The branding exercise undergone years ago always was anticipated to have a brand communication plan, a way to get out and tell our story. However the cost may be unacceptable. Council will discuss details about what we are hoping to achieve and get more accurate numbers on the costs, but should be move very cautiously.

  • Item 28 -- Staff Report on shopping carts abandonment. Shopping carts have been scattered around the community, especially near South Duff and South 5th for years. Council has largely ignored the issue, but recently received a letter from a vision-impaired individual who finds them very tough to navigate. We will look at it one more time.

  • Item 29 -- Staff Report on Residential High-Density Evaluation of City-Wide Sites. In this council action form the RHD Tool is applied to many properties around the community, which are not currently under consideration for redevelopment. This issue could end up guiding us to the approval of hundreds of new rental units in the community. While, we have heard many aesthetic concerns about the high density housing explosion on S. 16th and Mortensen, I am finding it very hard to get past the fact that this housing will put downward pressure on rental housing pricing, making it more affordable in the City of Ames, a goal of the council's. I hope the council will have the courage to demand cost sharing development agreements with CyRide during as we look to add housing to the market.

  • Item 30 -- Requests for initiation of Land Use Policy Plan Amendments for Eastgate and South Duff Avenue. These 2 projects will be considered in the context of the Residential High Density Tool. It should be an interesting conversation.

  • Item 34 --Hearing on Urban Revitalization Plan Amendment for 921- 9th Street (former Roosevelt School site). While this project has been a great example of cooperation between the Roosevelt Neighborhood, the Ames Community School District, the City of Ames and Duane Jensen, I am disappointed when organizations, that have made commitments to the city, fail to follow through on them. Then our residents turn to Channel 12 and see us discussing the difference between a beautiful 2-story glass atrium and corrugated metal, and wonder why we don't have anything better to do. We again will have to look at holding an organization to their original commitments, rather than celebrating a community success.

    I just wish we could high five on a job well done, but as I am pretty short, that might not go much better than this discussion will.