If you recall, the school board discussed the disposal of the land and buildings on the Roosevelt. When the board conversation ended, the board was in the middle of discussing a timeline for an auction for the school building. The Real Estate Liquidation Committee recommended a timeline of just a few weeks, with a minimum offer of $150,000. It’s position at the time was that if an offer was not forth coming, the building should be demolished.
Since that meeting in December, the board received a joint letter from the Citizens for Roosevelt Park and the Preserve Roosevelt group. The letter is below as well as in pdf format. RFP Roosevelt School – Letter from CFRP and Preserve Roosevelt Group
The letter asks the board NOT to use an auction process – rather, they ask that an RFP process be used. They believe this approach will be the most transparent and “…is in the best interest of the neighbors and community…” They also suggest a number of stipulations:
- A minimum of 1.27 acres for public part space,
- Reuse of the historic school building in a way compatible with the neighborhood and which would preserve the historical integrity of the building,
- A specific closing date for both the park and ownership of the building, and
- No developer-initiated contingencies.
The letter goes on to point out the city’s expressed willingness to take on space for a park and the Historic Preservation Commission’s offer of expertise and assistance.
I will share I am pleased to see groups such as these coming together to express interest in a process and outcome that is beneficial to all parties. I only hope the board chooses to select a process and timeline that allows that to happen.
TEXT OF JOINT LETTER
To: Ames Community School Board
From: Citizens for Roosevelt Park and the Preserve Roosevelt group
Re: RFP process for the Roosevelt School site
Date: Jan 3, 2013
Imagine a few short years from now, you drive past 921 9th Street. Instead of the now vacant property, you see families enjoying a newly developed park in the green space east of the building. They are running, swinging, playing soccer or just enjoying the beautiful day. Next to them is a beautifully restored building housing a number of families of all types and ages. They enjoy the location, the Ames urban core, and its many amenities close enough for walking or biking and decreased dependence on cars. Several have children who attend the Ames School District. The school district no longer owns the property and has saved half a million dollars in demolition costs. The community has retained a significant historic building. The neighborhood has gained new neighbors with a building use compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. On Sunday evenings a concert of live music permeates the area while one and all enjoy the new site development. Wouldn’t you be proud to say you were a part of making this win-win solution happen for the community of Ames?
Together, the Citizens for Roosevelt Park group and the Preserve Roosevelt group, ask you to consider establishing a request for proposals (RFP) process as you move forward with actions concerning the Roosevelt School property. The Citizens for Roosevelt Park is a diverse group dedicated to preserving a large park at the former Roosevelt school site in central Ames. The Preserve Roosevelt group is devoted to the preservation and reuse of the historic school building located at 921 9th Street in Ames. These two groups are joining together in this request because they share common goals and beliefs. One of those beliefs is that an RFP, as a transparent process, (not an auction) is in the best interest of the neighbors and community and will yield the best result for all including the Ames Community School District (ACSD).
We believe such an RFP should include the following stipulations:
1. A minimum of a 1.27 acre contiguous public park space (the current grassy field to the east of the building). More park space is highly desired if it does not prevent reuse of the building.
2. Reuse of the historic school building in a way that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and which would preserve the historical integrity of the building.
3. A specific closing date for both the City (conveyance directly from the ACSD to the City) to take over park space and for a new owner to assume ownership of the building and remaining land space.
4. No developer-initiated contingencies.
With a unanimous vote, the Ames City Council expressed “a willingness to accept as much land as possible” and to work cooperatively with neighbors to plan and develop such a park (Council meeting of Nov 27th). The Ames Parks and Recreation Commission has indicated that they will prioritize funding for the development of the neighborhood park. Additionally, the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Ames has offered their expertise and assistance in regard to the historic building (letter of Sept 21). These bodies have planning expertise that can be valuable to the ACSD in this situation. We believe the RFP process would result in a win-win result for all parties.
Benefits to the ACSD:
1. An expedient, clear and precise process
2. A reasonable financial return
3. Community-focused decision making and decision-making that is amenable to maintaining ACSD student enrollment (park spaces recruit and retain young families in our Ames neighborhoods and historic buildings contribute to sense of place)
Potential developers benefit by clearly articulating their need for landscaping and parking spaces for successful reuse of the site. The community of Ames benefits with resolution to a long-drawn out controversy. Parties and citizens involved can begin rebuilding trust and communication. The community of Ames gains a neighborhood park and neighbors retain the historic use of the open area for a playground, gathering space, and summer Sunday concerts. The community of Ames benefits by retention and reuse of a historic building that is one of many contributing to a sense of place within the City of Ames. The neighborhood gains a building usage that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. There are numerous sustainability benefits. All parties involved benefit from community-focused decision making.
for Citizens for Roosevelt Park for Preserve Roosevelt Group – Stacey Ross and Anneke Mundel
for Preserve Roosevelt Group – Erv Klaas, Sue Crull, and Sharon Wirth