The Ames City Council approved a waiver of parking fees in the downtown area for the third annual Ames Pridefest during its meeting Tuesday night but not as many as Ames Pride requested.
Ames Pridefest sees more and more attendees each year. In 2017, there were more than 400 people and 2018 saw more than 1,000 people. Ames Pride hopes to see more than 2,000 people during the festival in September.
The council approved a temporary obstruction permit and waived the fee for a blanket vendor license. They also approved the closure of parts of Douglas Avenue and 6th Street from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. the day of the event and waived the parking fees for 75 downtown meters.
However, Ames Pride requested the council to waive all 613 downtown meters.
“Economic accessibility is as important for any other accessibility,” said Tara Andrews, a chair of Ames Pride. “We want to have attendees be a part of the festival for as long as they want to be and not just as long as they can afford to be.”
Third Ward Rep. David Martin motioned to approve the waiver of all downtown parking fees and noted the council had approved requests like this before in the past.
“We approved that for three days last year for a shopping event,” Martin said. “[When we do this] it says that we care about the community and will give them a day where they don’t have to worry about parking. Maybe we should have a conversation about not doing this generally, but this event is significant enough that we don’t need to have that discussion now.”
At-Large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen and Ward One Rep. Gloria Betcher voted in support of Martin’s motion. Ward Two Rep.Tim Gartin, Ward Four Rep. Chris Nelson and At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri voted against the motion.
“I voted against the lowering of the meter fees, and I’m not going to be supporting closing [all] the meters,” Corrieri said.
Andrews said that she’s glad the council took so much time to reach a decision but would’ve preferred it if they agreed to waive all the meters.
“I’m a little disappointed with the decision, but 3-3 vote isn’t bad for the first time making this request,” said Tara Andrews, a chair with Ames Pride. “We’re still happy with [the decision], they approved this much for us last year and that helped. We’re looking forward to approaching this again next year.”
Pridefest will take place on Sept. 7 in downtown Ames.
The council also approved a number of accommodations for Iowa State Greek Week celebrations this April, including a blanket obstruction permit and the temporary closure of several streets.