Members of the Ames community gathered to walk around Campustown on Wednesday in an effort to make the Iowa State community safer.
People of all walks of life attended the annual Campustown Safety Walk. Ames police officers helped coordinate the event in cooperation with city council members and Iowa State’s Student Government, but others from Ames’ electrical services and a private security company also helped out.
This spring marks over five years of the walk with more people participating every year. About a dozen of the new participants were students.
“It’s an event that allows students and city employees and neighborhood folks to get together, to walk and check out the safety of the area,” said City Councilwoman Gloria Betcher.
At the beginning of the event, participants were split up into teams to walk throughout Campustown to look for any problems. Many of the issues encountered involved broken sidewalks that could present tripping hazards or overgrown shrubs that presented a danger to cyclists and other pedestrians. Other factors included damaged driveways and poor or broken street lighting. While inspecting the sidewalk, a member of the fire department almost walked into a branch.
Betcher said the focus of the walk was to prevent natural hazards and environments that could be conducive to assault situations. If any problems were discovered on a property, participants took note and the city will send owners a reminder to take care of the hazards.
When asked about whether the city would pursue further action if nothing was done about the problems, Betcher indicated that penalties could be issued, but said that “the city is much more interested in educating than fining.”
Betcher expressed hope that in the future, Campustown could be improved and that the walk could be replicated elsewhere, with the older parts of town being her next area of focus.
In past years, the walk took place in the fall but was changed this year in hopes of allowing the city to address problems sooner rather than later. Another benefit of doing it in the spring is that repairs can be made when fewer students are around.
“We’ll gather all our data when we’re done and then I’ll send that on to the city departments and they’ve got the rest of the year to get that fixed,” said Officer Kurt Kruger of the Ames Police Department.
Anne Miller, a senior at Iowa State and member of Student Government, said she enjoys Campustown and is grateful for the police presence and support. Miller came from out of state but said she enjoys the small-town feeling with a university that the Campustown area provides.
“I love Ames and I like all the projects that they have to improve Ames ... It’s nice to see the progress that’s being made,” Miller said.