Frequently Asked Questions

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Intergenerational Healthy Life Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy Life Center Front

1. What is the core purpose of the Healthy Life Center (HLC)?

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.


2. What makes the HLC 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 physical activity, health and nutrition, and social networking with Education and Applied Student Learning as an all-encompassing ideal.


3. Why did the six collaboration partners come together?

Based on their areas of expertise, the six collaboration partners came together to address key principles that support the Healthy Life Center concept. These include:

  • Provide a needed quality of life amenity to:
    • Assist local employers in hiring quality workers
    • Enrich lifestyle opportunities for millennials, families, and retirees
  • Tackle troubling health statistics:
    • Nationally, Iowa ranks fourth in obesity
    • Children and Adults: One out of three are overweight or obese
    • Baby Boomers: One out of three will have some form of dementia
    • In 2018, Mary Greeley Medical Center treated 128 people for a heart attack. Of those, 108 were Ames/Story County residents. The Healthy Life Center will be a tremendous rehabilitation resource.
  • Give residents access to a year-round warm water recreational pool. Municipal Pool will be demolished prior to the Ames Community School District opening the new Ames High School, including a cold water, competitive pool in 2022.


4. Why is this project described as unprecedented?

Two main reasons:

  1. This project has six collaboration partners that work well together.
  2. The collaboration partners, along with donations, have formally committed $20 million in funding toward the $49 million project cost. If the bond referendum is successful on Tuesday, September 10, residents will obtain a $49 million project for a $29 million investment. Historically, the largest private gift to a City recreation facility was $2 million from Don and Ruth Furman for the Furman Aquatic Center.


5. Municipal Pool will be demolished in 2022. What will we do then as a community?

The Healthy Life Center will include a warm-water indoor aquatic center. Three independent pool basins will be included and two slides. This is important because Municipal Pool will be demolished prior to the Ames Community School District opening a new high school in 2022.




6. What is the overall building size?

The building is approximately 125,000 square feet (sf) with 100,000 sf on the first floor and 25,000 sf on the second floor.  The building, parking, and outdoor amenities requires a 10-acre site.


7. What are the major indoor and outdoor features of this project?
Active Lifestyle features:

  • Children’s Indoor Playground
  • Two Water Slides
  • Wellness/Therapy Pool
  • Six lane 25 yard Pool
  • Zero Depth Entry Pool with Play Structure
  • Lazy River
  • Aerobic/Multipurpose rooms
  • Cardio/Fitness Equipment
  • Gymnasium (3 high school regulation basketball courts)
  • Mary Greeley Medical Centers’ Physical Therapy Room
  • Heartland Senior Services’ Adult Day Center

Health & Nutrition features:

  • Participation Kitchen
  • Outdoor Community Gardens
  • Outdoor Demonstration Composting Site
  • Adult Day Center
  • Meeting Room Space
  • SHIIP Counseling Office

Social Network features:

  • Birthday Party Room
  • Arts, Crafts, Music Room
  • Café
  • Atrium for gathering
  • Outdoor Patio for gathering
  • Multi-purpose Rooms
  • Drop-In Child Watch

8. Can you provide more information on the outdoor activity features?

The outdoor children’s play structure, community gardens, a demonstration composting site, and pollinator gardens will be the main areas.

The community gardens will play a key role in bringing the intergenerational component of the complex to life. Individuals of all ages will have the opportunity to plant and tend to the gardens. The healthy produce will be used within the participation kitchen to teach all ages how to cook healthy.


9. Who will own and manage the facility?

The City of Ames will own and manage the facility.




10. How much will the HLC cost and how will it be funded?
The total project budget is $49,065,000.

Collaboration partner’s contributions and private donations total $20 million (41%). Residents are now being asked if they want to fund the balance of $29 million (59%) on Tuesday, September 10.

Here is a summary of the identified funding sources to pay for the $49,065,000:

  • Mary Greeley Medical Center                                      $7,000,000

  • Heartland Senior Services                                           $3,500,000

  • Story County government                                            $2,000,000

  • Philanthropic donations                                                $5,500,000

    Sub-Total:                                                                     $20,000,000


  • Bond Referendum vote                                                 $29,065,000

    (September 10 vote date)

     Total:                                           $49,065,000

11. How would passing a $29,065,000 bond referendum impact my property taxes?
The impact per $100,000 of assessed valuation is estimated:

  • $44/per year for residential property
  • $70/per year for commercial/industrial property

The above amounts ($44/per year for residential and $70/per year for commercial and industrial) include the ongoing operation and maintenance costs of the complex, as well as all costs associated with building the facility.

  • Assumptions included in determining the above tax implications follow:
  • Based on fiscal year 2019/20 valuation, City tax rate and State rollback
  • Twenty-year debt at 3.5% interest rate
  • Construction costs projected in 2020 dollars

Operational Expenses:  $3,083,413 per year

Operational Revenues:  $2,678,852 per year

Deficit:                              $   404,561 per year


12. Can you comment on the anticipated operational deficit of approximately $404,561 per year?

It’s important to understand that this operational deficit includes $300,000/annually to be placed into a building depreciation/replacement fund.  In the years to come, these accumulating funds will be used to maintain and replace building features (windows, doors, roof, heating and ventilation systems, etc.).


13. Is it unusual for this type of public facility to operate at a deficit and need tax support in the amount of $404,561/annually?

No, it is not unusual. The majority of quality-of-life amenities require tax support. Examples include:

  • Municipal Pool: $100,000/annually    
  • Ames’ park system: $1.4 million/annually


14. Is the City making cuts elsewhere to make up for this deficit?

No. The City will not be making cuts elsewhere. The HLC operational deficit will be covered by the property tax increase that will occur if residents pass the bond referendum on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The impact per $100,000 of assessed valuation is estimated:

  • $44/per year for residential property
  • $70/per year for commercial/industrial property.


15. How much will it cost to use the HLC? Will user fees be similar to what residents pay at the Furman Aquatic Center?

Proportionally, costs will be similar to the fee schedule at the Furman Aquatic Center. It is anticipated that over the next few years (prior to opening the HLC) additional payment options will be explored including monthly, quarterly, school year, and/or summer season passes. The fee schedule is shown below.

Proposed HLC Fee Schedule 2019


 * Admission includes facility access + basic fitness classes (land and water). Fees are based on 2020 dollars.


16. What if someone can’t afford the admission fee?

The overarching purpose of the Healthy Life Center 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 needs-based scholarship program will be available and based on Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) guidelines.


17. 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 inclement weather, it is anticipated that a season pass from Furman will be valid at the HLC.


18. If I purchase a pass to the HLC, do I have to pay for a fitness class, cooking class or a Learn-to-Swim class?

The pass allows free admission to “basic” fitness classes – both land and water.

There is an additional fee to join a “specialized” class/program such as a cooking class or Learn-to-Swim class.


19. Do I have to pay the building admission fee if I just want to attend a “specialized” cooking class/program or Learn-to-Swim class?

No, you do not. You would just pay the “specialized” class/program fee.


20. Why did the Story County Board of Supervisors approve $2 million in capital funding and $100,000 annually for ongoing operational expenses?

It is anticipated that approximately 30% of the people that would use the HLC will reside in greater Story County. Historically, “non-residents of Ames” have been charged 25% more. The contribution from Story County eliminates the need to assess a “non-resident fee” to those who reside in Story County.




21. Where will it be located?

North of Ontario Street and west of Scholl Road


22. How was the location determined?

It was the only available and cost effective location within Ames on a CyRide bus route and large enough to accommodate the facility components: indoor aquatic center, gymnasium, 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.

Multiple sites were assessed in different locations that would provide the 10 acres of land required for this project. For example, the remainder of property near the Furman Aquatic Center was considered. This land is in the floodway and cannot be built on.

Another location considered was the Downtown Ames area to spur redevelopment of under utilized properties. To acquire 10 acres in this part of town was not feasible do to the following requirements:

  • ALL identified property owners would have to be willing sellers
  • The City would have to purchase all properties at market value
  • The purchase of these parcels would convert tax-paying property into public property


23. 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. In August of 2019, it is anticipated that the Iowa Board of Regents will approve leasing the site to the City for $1 per year.


24. Is this location on a CyRide bus route?

Yes, it is on the green route.


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



26. The train tracks border the north side of the parcel – is this a concern?

No. The tracks are located approximately 50 feet to the north of the building with a controlled crossing. Vegetation (i.e. trees, shrubs, etc.) will be planted between the HLC and tracks to act as a sound, visual and physical barrier between the two features.


27. There have been rumors that the proposed site at Ontario Street and Scholl Road is potentially contaminated due to experiments or storage during by Federal government more than 70 years ago. 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 is a clean and safe site. This site has only been used by Iowa State University for agriculture purposes – it has never been used as a disposal, storage or experimental site for anything other than agricultural uses.

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


28. Is this site located in the flood plain?



29. 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. Over 50 people attended and expressed the need for a traffic light due to the increased volume of traffic on Ontario between 7 and 9 AM and 4 to 6 PM.  Overall, those in attendance support the development of a HLC within their neighborhood.


30. How will storm water be managed?

Current storm water retention practices will be implemented for storm water run-off, with rain gardens and native plantings included on the site.


31. How will increased traffic on Ontario Street be handled?

The City’s Traffic engineer will conduct a traffic study to determine if a traffic light should be installed at the site. 




32. Will services/activities from the Community Center at City Hall be relocated to the HLC?

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


33. How many people are anticipated to use the HLC annually?

It is estimated 333,000 user visits will occur annually. Based on attendance numbers at the Furman Aquatic Center of 80,000 visits per summer, this estimate seems realistic. 


34. I’ve heard that ISU and DMACC students will have applied student learning, educational and internship opportunities at the HLC, what does that mean?

Students will experience real-world internship and practicum experiences in the following majors:

  1. Kinesiology
    • Athletic Training
    • Diet and Exercise
    • Kinesiology and Health
    • Physical Education
    • Health Coach certificate
  2. Food Science and Nutrition
  3. Gerontology, (Iowa State University offers one of only five PhD programs in the United States)
  4. Family and Consumer Sciences
  5. Iowa State's new BSN program – community emphasis versus institutional


35. What other non-profit groups are envisioned to use the HLC on a regular basis?

Conversations have occurred 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.


36. 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 be located at Gateway Park.


37. What strengths does each of the 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, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, etc.

Des Moines Area Community College: Increased applied student learning, education, and internships in culinary arts, Associate Degree in Nursing, etc.

Story County: It is anticipated that 30% of residents from greater Story County will utilize the HLC. Therefore, Story County government is contributing $2 million in capital and $100,000/annually in ongoing operational fund. This will ensure residents of Story County (outside of Ames) pay the same user fees as the residents of Ames.