Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Veenker Memorial Golf Course Maintenance Facility Relocation

Moore Memorial Park, Ames, Iowa (Jan 18, 2010)

The Moore Memorial Park is the green area behind my house, where I walk Kero every morning. The park was established on a 90 acres property donated to the city of Ames by Fern and Bertha Moore, that operated a dairy farm there. It is said that Bertha Moore enjoyed negotiating with developers that wanted to buy the valuable property (which sits next to the Iowa State University Veenker golf course), to "hear them out, bargain and then decline". She wanted the property to be converted into a place where children could play. And so it is now: the park is a nice green oasis where the people in the neighborhood bring their children, bike, jog or walk their dogs (this is what I do) on a daily basis. It is common to have large weddings hosted in spring in one of the two shelters in the park.

As you can see in the leaflet shown on the left, the park is destined to shrink a little starting from the next week. A few years ago it became clear that the golf course maintenance facility, currently located in the flood plain within the golf course grounds, was not a safe place for the heavy machinery it hosts. The Squaw Creek periodically floods the area, and the maintenance facility shed with it. 

To avoid this issue the University asked the city to lease 5,000 square feet on the South side of the park to build a new maintenance facility building. The transaction was approved in 2012, and the construction works will start next week. You can read the whole story here. It is to be noted that the site where the facility is being built is currently occupied by a 9/11 memorial that will need to be relocated (some of the trees are already gone). The City hosted a public meeting with the residents (which was not very well attended, and I am as guilty as anybody else for not even knowing about it). Most of the objections to the construction of the facility concerned the visual impact of the structure (the esthetics of the building does not seem to have anything to do with the looks of the park existing structures, i.e. the shelters or the preserved red barn and silo), the fact that the building will block the view from the park to the meadows in the golf course and the forest behind (the trees in the 9/11 memorial would have eventually taken care of that), and of course the "desecration" of the 9/11 memorial. Reading the City Council document linked above, it looks like nobody mentioned what I think will be the main problem that the maintenance facility will bring to the park: noise. And I am not referring to the construction work noise. The purpose of the facility is to host the heavy machinery (large lawn mowers, tractors/trucks, earthmoving machines) that are currently down below in the golf course. These are noisy machines: ever heard the loud beeping of a truck in reverse? This is what I am talking about. Having them operating on a daily basis right next to one of the main paths within Moore Park will be extremely disruptive, for the people and pets that enjoy the park (I can imagine Kero going berserk every time one of those loud machines will move as we walk along the path next to the facility, that would pretty much write off that side of the park for me). Certainly this park "improvement" will not help preserving the quiet that the park frequenters seek. Hardly what Fern and Bertha Moore had in mind for their little plot of land.

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