Community members were invited to learn about the proposal for the Healthy Life Center and its request for a $29,065,000 bond Tuesday at City Hall.
The meeting was presented by Keith Abraham, director of Parks and Recreation, and Nancy Carroll, executive director of Heartland Senior Services.
According to The State of Obesity, Iowa has the fourth highest adult obesity rate in the United States at 36.4%. Mary Greeley Medical Center treated 128 people in 2018 for heart attacks, 108 of them from Ames or Story County.
In order to improve the health of Iowa, Carroll said the Healthy Life Center will be used to create an educational approach to focus on promoting nutritional health and fitness for the community of all ages and socio-economic status.
“Scholarships will be provided and, going back to the purpose statement, we want this for all socio-economic status and we want to make sure people can get in here and use the facility,” Abraham said.
The scholarships will be following the Mid-Iowa Community Action income guidelines.
The center will be at the intersection of Ontario Street and Scholl Road if the bond referendum is approved. The center will also include career opportunities for students at DMACC and Iowa State to apply what they are learning in a real-world setting.
The Healthy Life Center is set to include an indoor aquatic center, offering a replacement to the pool at Ames High School which will be demolished in 2022. The aquatic center would have a lazy river, two warm-water pools and a children’s area. Jill Roof, an Ames resident, said she is concerned about the community's awareness of the project as it relates to Ames High School.
Abraham said the Ames Education Board has not confirmed if the pool at the new Ames High School will be open to the public.
Community members expressed concern about the accessibility of the project, such as if entry ways will be accessible to the desired services within the center.
Abraham said there will be two entry ways, one to access the Heartland Rehabilitation Center and another entrance to the main facility.
The project is a collaboration between the city of Ames, Mary Greeley Medical Center, the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State, DMACC, Heartland Senior Services and Story County.
Roof, who said she worked at Mary Greeley for 31 years, said the project could offer new opportunities for Ames residents.
“We need more warm water aquatic opportunities, we need something that brings old and young together,” Roof said. “We have this great community center, but the gardens, the cooking classes — all that is something that Ames doesn’t have.”
The total capital project and bond issuance cost is about $49,065,000. $20 million of the costs will be covered by the collaborators of the project and private donations. The collaborators of the Healthy Life Center are asking for Ames voters to approve a $29,065,000 bond referendum Sept. 10.
If the bond referendum were to be approved, the Healthy Life Center will open in late 2022 or early 2023.
The estimated cost will be calculated per $100,000 of assessed valuation of property. This means if a property is worth $100,000, the estimated annual cost to residential owners will be $44 per year and commercial business and industrial owners would pay $70 per year. The assessed evaluation will include anticipated debt payback for construction and annual operational subsidy of $404,561.
There will be two more informational meetings in August, one at 6 p.m. Aug. 28 and the other at 4 p.m. Aug. 29, both at the Ames Public Library Auditorium. More information can be found on the city of Ames website.