Frequently Asked Questions

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Intergenerational Healthy Life Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy Life Center Front

What is the core purpose of the Healthy Life Center?
To provide a one-of-a-kind Center that makes the life-long goal of healthy living accessible and enjoyable to people of all ages and socio-economic status.

What makes this a one-of-a-kind facility?
Six collaboration partners will contribute their unique areas of expertise and services at the same complex: the City of Ames, Mary Greeley Medical Center, Heartland Senior Services, Iowa State University, Des Moines Area Community College, and Story County.

The HLC will have a holistic, intergenerational approach focused on "Live Well/Be Well" by combining an active lifestyle, health and nutrition, and social networking with education and applied student learning as an all-encompassing ideal.

How did the six collaboration partners come together?
Based on their areas of expertise, the six collaboration partners combine their strengths to address four key principles that support the Healthy Life Center concept. The six collaboration partners have the same vision and ability to address:

  • Enhancing quality-of-life facilities to attract and retain millennials, families, and retirees
  • Tackling troubling health statistics such as childhood obesity, inactivity, and chronic diseases
  • Building on a history of successful partnerships between governmental entities
  • Supporting the Healthiest Iowa initiative and Healthiest Ames

What strengths do each of the six collaboration partners bring to the project?

  • City of Ames: Would own and manage the complex; Parks and Recreation would spearhead and coordinate (with the other collaboration partners) program offerings to address the whole person well-being.

  • Mary Greeley Medical Center: Would bring physical therapy to the complex. This would greatly enhance ISU and DMACC’s opportunity to expand student applied student learning, educational and internship opportunities. Physical therapy clients would seamlessly become aware of the other building components to support them in their rehabilitation process (walking track, warm water current channel, therapy pool, etc.)

  • Heartland Senior Services: The Adult Day Center, a licensed medical unit that can accommodate up to 35 people with dementia and other medical concerns, would be the main feature of HSS’s inclusion within the complex. As their individual situation allows, attendees could take advantage of the other building features (walking track, current channel, therapy pool, and MGMC’s physical therapy services, etc.). Additionally, the Adult Day Center would serve as a tremendous applied student learning, internship and research opportunity for ISU and DMACC. Caregivers would have the opportunity to utilize the HLC while their family member is safely provided for at the Adult Day Center. Older adults would have the opportunity to expand their wellness opportunities by utilizing the other HLC feature versus being limited to more sedentary activities that are currently offered at the Heartland Senior Center. The intergenerational component is also an exciting opportunity for retirees to be involved with younger generations.
  • Iowa State University: Increased applied student learning, education, research projects, and internships in the fields of kinesiology, gerontology, food science and nutrition, family and consumer science, and nursing degree program, etc.

  • Des Moines Area Community College: Increased applied student learning, education, and internships in culinary arts, nursing, etc.

  • Story County: Approximately 30% of the HLC users will be residents of greater Story County. Therefore, Story County is being asked to provide $3 million in capital and $200,000 in ongoing operational funding so these residents can access the HLC at the same user fee schedule as the residents of Ames.

Where will it be located?
In Ames, north of Ontario and west of Scholl Road

How was the location determined?
Located on a CyRide bus route, it was the only available and cost effective location within Ames large enough (10 acres is needed) to accommodate the facility components: indoor aquatic center, three gymnasiums, Heartland Senior Services, Mary Greeley Medical Center physical therapy room, indoor playground for children, fitness room, walking/jogging track, multi-purpose rooms, and meeting rooms, etc.

What size is the parcel, who owns the land and how much will it cost to acquire?
Iowa State University owns this 10-acre parcel. ISU Administration supports the land being used for the HLC complex. Ultimately, the Iowa Board of Regents will determine if the City of Ames purchases the property at the assessed value of approximately $300,000, or if the site can be leased to the City for $1. 

Is this location on a CyRide bus route?
Yes - the green route

Is this site served by the City’s existing trail system?

The train tracks border the north side of the parcel – is this a concern?
No. The tracks are located approximately 50’ to the north of the building with an armed crossing at Scholl Road. Numerous pine trees will be planted between the HLC and tracks to act as a sound, visual, and physical barrier.

Is this site located in the flood plain?

Are the adjacent property owners concerned about this complex being located in their neighborhood?
A public meeting was held in January 2018 with residents of this area. More than 50 people attended and expressed the need for a traffic light due to the increased volume of traffic on Ontario from 7 to 9 AM and from 4 to 6 PM. Overall, those in attendance support the development of a HLC within their neighborhood.

How will stormwater be managed?
State-of-the-art retention practices will be implemented for stormwater management. This will include retention ponds and pollinator gardens.

Over the decades there have been rumors that this site could be “contaminated” because the Federal government once operated the “Research Reactor” which is now called the “Applied Science Center” 500 yards north of this site. What is the factual information related to this concern?
Tom Barton, former Director of the Ames Laboratory and Harris Seidel, former Director of the City of Ames Water, Pollution and Control Department confirmed that this land never had any relationship to the Reactor/Applied Science Center. It is a clean and safe site. This site has only been used by Iowa State for agriculture purposes – it has never been used as a disposal site for anything – never.

View the video featuring Tom Barton and Harris Seidel providing important, fact-based site information.

What is the overall building size?
It is approximately 90,000 square foot at grade with a second floor that totals an additional 35,000 square feet that requires (with parking lot, water retention pond, rain and pollinator gardens, etc.) a 10-acre site.

What are the major building components?

 Active Lifestyle features:

  • Physical Therapy Room
  • Aerobics room
  • Cardio/Fitness Equipment
  • Gymnasiums (3)
  • Children’s Indoor Playground
  • Children’s Outdoor Playground
  • Wellness/Therapy Pool
  • Warm Water Pool
    • Six lanes/25 yards
    • Tow Water Slides
    • Lazy River
    • Zero Depth Entry with Children’s Play Structure

Health & Nutrition Features:

  • Participation Kitchen
  • Outdoor Community Gardens
  • Adult Day Center
  • Public Meeting Room Space
  • SHIIP Counseling Office (Senior Health Insurance Information Program)

Social Networking Features

  • Atrium with a Cafe and Socail Gathering Space
  • Arts, Crafts, Music Room
  • Multi-purpose rooms and Child Watch Fun Center

Why does the aquatic center include slides? Are these really needed?
To combat childhood inactivity and obesity numerous fun features are included within the aquatic component. The Furman Aquatic Center taught us that children like the tall slides and will climb the stairs to experience the fun many times per visit – which is an excellent way for them to exercise.

Why does the slide leave and then re-entering the pool?
It is more cost effective to have the slide be located outdoors whereby reducing costs to build a bigger building to accommodate this structure all indoors.

In cold weather isn’t that going to be a problem?
No, these types of slides are structurally successfully and popular to ride in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other extremely cold winter environments.

Who will own and manage the facility?
City of Ames, Department of Parks and Recreation

What are the estimated Admission Fees?

Proposed Fees to Healthy Life Center

What if someone can’t afford the admission fee?
The purpose of the HLC is to make the life-long-goal of healthy living accessible and enjoyable to people of all ages and social-economic status. To accomplish this goal, a sliding fee schedule will be provided to anyone not able to pay a program/admission fee and administered MICA.  

How many people will use the HLC annually?
Annually, we anticipate 333,000 visits. Based on the Furman Aquatic Center attendance numbers of 100,000 visits per summer, this estimate seems realistic. 

Unique Programming and Activities:

What are some of the majors at ISU and DMACC that might have applied student learning, educational and/or internship opportunities at the HLC?

There are several easily identified including Gerontology, Kinesiology, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Food Science and Nutrition, Dietetics, Culinary Arts, and Family and Consumer Sciences.

Will there be outdoor activity features too?
Yes. An outdoor children’s play structure and community gardens will be focal points of the complex exterior. The gardens will play a critical role in bringing the intergenerational component of the complex to life. We envision older adults and young children planting and tending to the gardens. The produce could then be used within the instructional/demonstration kitchen to teach all ages how to cook healthy.

What other non-profit groups might use the HLC on a regular basis?
SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) and conversations will continue to occur with ChildServe, YSS, and the Boys and Girls Club.

The HLC will serve these and many other non-profit entities with much needed access to wellness facilities and intergenerational programming opportunities.

Do I have to purchase a pass for the Furman Aquatic Center and to the Healthy Life Center?
Yes. However, whenever the Furman Aquatic Center is closed due to the weather season pass from Furman will be valid at the HLC.

What will happen when Municipal Pool, located at Ames High is demolished in 2022?
The School District will build a new cold water competitive pool at Ames High. However, this will not meet the needs of the overall general public who desire a warm water recreational experience. Therefore, if the Healthy Life Center is not built – residents will only have access during limited hours at the Ames High cold water facility.

Will the activities that take place at the Gateway Administrative Office be relocated to the HLC?
No. The Parks and Recreation Administration Office and the Small Wonders Preschool program will continue to located at Gateway Park.

Will services/activities from the downtown Community Center at City Hall be relocated to the HLC?
The gymnastics/tumbling tot activities (located on the second floor) of the Community Center will be relocated to the HLC. It is anticipated that the fitness room, gymnasium, cardio/weight equipment, locker rooms and the Parks and Recreation satellite office will remain at the Community Center.