City Mulls Options for New Aquatics Center

Andy Berg Headshot

The Ames (Iowa) City Council will decide this month whether a new $27.5 million aquatics center will be presented to voters or be approved without taxpayers’ approval.

Ames has applied for the Iowa Reinvestment District program, which would give the city hotel and motel tax rebates to pay for projects and promote development. The city requested $21 million but was granted $10 million by the state.

A final concept for the facility need to be submitted by February 25.

On Tuesday, the council set an agenda item for July 27 to get public input and decide on whether a referendum will be held to fund the remaining $17.5 million for the aquatics center.

"While we didn't receive the total $21 million, we did receive authorization for $10 million, so we're quite excited about that," city manager Steve Schainker said at Tuesday's meeting, according to the Ames Tribune. "Even if we get $2 million, that's going to help us off the accorded price.

The $10 million will be paid up front with general obligation bonds, as well as the $7.5 million gap. The rest will be covered through private fundraising.

The council must now decide whether to hold a referendum to approve the bonds for the portion not covered by the state.

Voters previously rejected a proposal for a Healthy Life Center, which would have filled the need for a new pool.

"I think we have listened to the public. The public turned down the Healthy Life Center because it was too big, it was too expensive, people didn't like the location," councilmember Amber Corrieri said. "Now we've come back with a much smaller project with a more central location and I think that is evidence that we did listen."

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