Welcome to the Ames City Council live blog for June 25, 2013.
An early start for the council this evening as ISU officials will present the $12 million expansion plan for the Research Park. Making comments for the university--President Steven Leath, Research Park Director Steven Carter, and ISU Business and Finance Vice President Warren Madden.
Also on hand are the three members of the Story County Board of Supervisors--Wayne Clinton, Rick Sanders, and Paul Toot.
6:05PM--Leath calls the new Research Park expansion a "one stop shop" for economic development.
6:15PM--Director Steven Carter says the Reseach Park now covers 450,000 sqaure feet, houses 60 companies that employ 1,200 people. He says many of the 40 companies have moved out of the park have stayed in central Iowa--many of them in Ames.
6:25PM--Carter says the Phase 3 development will be higher density with more green space built on a "hub" design. He says the space will also have some mixed-use with limited food service, banking, day care, etc.
6:45PM--Carter says they want to break ground on the new development next spring.
7:05PM--A nice elderly lady just expressed concern with the removal of flowers fromt the cemetary. No kidding, guys, she could have been my grandmother. It was eerie.
7:10PM--Should mention that the other issue we're following this evening is a staff presentation on providing water to a proposed northern growth area--and area that would be served by the Xenia Rural Water District. This comes on the same day as a State Auditor's report expressed concern on Xenia's future as "a going concern." The company announced, a couple of years ago, that it had run up $140 million in debt.
8:00PM--We've reached our "severe tire damage spikes" of the evening. The council is mired in an issue involving residential zoning density changes for a west side trailer park.
8:20PM--After a break, we are on to the water service report. Assistant City Manager Bob Kindred, Water and Pollution Control Director John Dunn, and Public Works Director John Joiner are giving the report.
8:27PM--Two officials from Xenia Rural Water are in the chambers are are likely to take questions from council.
8:30PM--Kindred says the northern growth area could see as many as 1,000 new homes when built out.
8:33PM--In regards to Xenia's financial woes, Kindred says the company's creditors now have a great deal of say over any deal made in regards to giving up territory or entering into any deal with the city.
8:40PM--Kindred says the easiest scenario, where the city buys out Xenia's territory could take anywhere from six to 18 months to be approved by creditors. Another scenario calls for Xenia to sell new customers in annexed areas city water. WPC Director Dunn says this is incredibly complex, and would not be acceptable to creditors.
8:57PM--Dunn says Xenia's amount for buy out is $6.7 million. City calculation comes it at $265,000. Here is the crux of the matter, no matter what the numbers are. The company wants to realize as much revenue as it can from this deal.
9:10PM--Kindred says city staff favors a buyout, which gives the city control from the start. The question becomes who fronts that buyout.
9:17PM--Xenia general manager L.D. McMullen says any new Ames customer would not pay toward the company's debt. Would only pay for operation going forward.
9:33PM--Developer Chuck Winkleblack says they don't like the buyout offer, saying they have no desire to cut someone a check for a certain dollar amount and hope they get their money back. He says a surcharge of $5-$20 dollars a month is no big deal for people who want to buy $300,000 houses.
9:50PM--An opinion here, that the council is only now admitting. When the city decided in 1996 not to grow to the north and ceeded the territory to Xenia, it painted itself into the corner its in now by reversing itself and set that area for growth.
10:00PM--2nd Ward Council Member Jami Larson makes a good point in negotations with Xenia--they don't get a dime if the area doesn't develop. At-Large Council Member Matthew Goodman counters that Xenia is a desparate company with no motivation to give the city a lower rate.
10:06PM: Council directs staff to continue negotiations with Xenia, looking for a buyout offer. Council wants the company to put it's best offer on the table.