Ames woman using GoFundMe
The 145-acre Champlin Lloyd Farm is located southwest of the Ames city limits, adjacent to the current city boundary, along Dartmoor Road, north of Zumwalt Station Road and to the west of 520th Avenue. Screen clip ping courtesy of Google Maps
“I feel like I have to do this. I have to protect this beautiful, unique place.” Christine Hausner launched a GoFundMe campaign, with a target goal of $1.9 million to in hopes of purchasing the Champlin Lloyd Farm, a 145-acre parcel that lies just southwest of the city limits. Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Gannett
Ames woman is using GoFundMe to protect Worle Creek
As a young girl growing up in the unincorporated rural area southwest of Ames, Christine Hausner’s memories are flooded with towering 300-year-old oak trees, rows of picturesque acres of rolling farmland and timber and its “crown jewel,” Worle Creek.
“My favorite thing was to go down to the creek and find this big boulder in the middle of the creek and hop the shore to sit on this boulder,” said Hausner, whose family has lived in southwest Ames for more than 90 years. “I remember all this water rushing around everything, and my mom would ring this huge German cowbell. And when it was time for me to come in, that’s what we did. We grew up outside.”
However, Hausner feels that the preliminary conversations of urban development and annexation in the southwest area could affect not only the unique rural way-of-life for Washington Town ship residents, but also the environment.
It’s the impetus for Hausner’s crowd funding campaign, via GoFundMe, to raise $1.9 million to purchase the Champlin Lloyd Farm, a 145-acre parcel that lies just southwest of the city limits. The property is located southwest of the corporate limits of the city of Ames, immediately adjacent to the current city boundary, along Dartmoor Road, north of Zumwalt Station Road and to the west of 520th Avenue.
In January, the Ames City Council decided on a 4-2 vote to shelve an annexation request by Champlin Farm property owners. The property owners were unable to be reached for comment, By Robbie Sequeira Gannett
but realtor Paul Livingston said there is no pending residential development of the Champlin Lloyd Farm.
However, the fundraising effort, Hausner said, can ensure envi ronmental protections for Worle Creek, which would be used for storm sewer drainage, if residential development took place.
“If urban development occurs, the city plans for Worle Creek to be used for storm sewer drainage,” said Hausner, who started the campaign a week ago. “The city and developers don’t see what we see, smell what we smell, and hear what we hear every day. I am trying to preserve this area so that my son and hopefully grandchil dren have the opportunity to grow up the way that my brother and I did, and how my dad and uncle did.”
Hausner has raised more than $1,500 so far, and she said that if she cannot raise funds or a lower offer is not accepted by the seller — she will refund 100 percent of the donations.
“Even if 200,000 people donate just $10, we can do this,” she said. “I feel like I have to do this. I have to protect this beautiful, unique place.”
The decision to shelve the request is heavily factored by the city council’s decision to forgo Ames Plan 2040 expansion in the area and the soon-to-expire Ames Urban Fringe Plan.
“With the Ames 2040 Plan and the Urban Fringe Plan both up for consideration, I’m not interested in considering the annexa tion of anything currently in our fringe areas without understanding more about how those two plans will turn out,” said council member Gloria Betcher.
Christine Hausner, her 4-year-old son Jackson and her father Erv Hausner represent three of the five generations that have spent more than 90 years in southwest Ames. Photo by Nirma lendu Majumdar/Gannett
Phil Iasevoli, a longtime resident in southwest Ames, said he enjoys seeing the different ecosystems and wildlife that are near Worle Creek. Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Gannett
A 2005 study of the creek and the surround ing environment in Washington Township classified the area as an ecologically sensitive area that “should be highly conserved.” Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Gannett
Residents, both in open forums and interviews for this story, said that development in southwest Ames isn’t feasible.
They cite topography of the landscape and limitations on useable land, as the area is comprised of nearly 4,000 acres of private land and ISU-owned research facilities.
Kelly Diekmann, planning director for the city, said that develop ment in the southwest area is possible, and could lead to an estimated 300 homes.
Any development that happens would have conservation elements to it and conservation easements that protect the sensitive areas,” Diekmann said. “Without saying a precise plan, we estimate that prob ably over 300 homes could be built in single family homes on that property. So development is viable.”
Council member Tim Gartin, who made the motion in approval of annexation, said that annexation is a difficult conversation, but not one that can’t be explored.
“Annexation is one of the hardest tasks that we ask city council members to take on,” Gartin said. “Because almost inevitably, there will be a situation where someone says, ‘I think it’s a terrible idea.’” Gartin added that, the prospect of development can also meet sus tainability and environmental goals.
“I’m willing to make hard decisions with respect to annexation, and it’s not because I’m callous,” Gartin said. “I’ve been in the area many times and familiar with it, it is a beautiful piece of land, but that doesn’t mean we can’t entertain conversations of annexation while also finding protections in place to protect the land.”
However, long-time residents like Phil Iasevoli, believe that any development will cause environmental harm to Worle Creek.
“We know that this is a healthy creek because of the abundance of crayfish, amphibians, frogs and wildlife,” he said. “If you start pollut ing this with runoff from the storm sewer, those species are all going to disappear.”
Iasevoli, a former zoologist, said that residents have been pushing back at development in the area since 2003, when the city proposed a $1 million proposal to run a sewer line along Worle Creek.
The backlash led to a 2005 environmental study of the creek and the surrounding environment in Washington Township, and the con clusions from the study classified the area as an ecologically sensitive area that “should be highly conserved.”
“The bulk of the species I found are considered ‘common’ but the concentration of these species in Worle Creek makes the area highly valuable for conservation,” an excerpt from the study reads. “Develop ment of this area is a decision not to be taken lightly.”
The study is still being echoed today by residents and by opponents of annexation. “It’s hard to prove feelings to someone, prove why something I matters so much,” Hausner said. “But this study shows that there is science behind this. That there’s a study that show why this is so important.”
Iasevoli said that development on the Champlin site would carry ramifications for residents — since a sanitary system in Worle Creek would need to tie into Kelley and tie into State (Avenue) from there,” he said. “And then for us, since we’re at the bottom, we would have to go ahead and put a grinder system into our septic system, we wouldn’t be allowed to have a septic anymore.”
Unlike areas in city limits, the area has no direct access to CyRide, and is more than a mile away from the nearest commercial property.
“The main infrastructure issue is that there’s gravel roads that serve in the area need roads, and some improvements would need to be done long-term to support the construction of the overall subdivisions,” Diekmann said.
According to city documents, the cost of paving Dartmoor was estimated at $2 to $2.5 million.
Additionally, paving of Zumwalt Station Road and a portion of State Avenue is estimated at $2.5 to $3 million dollars.
When the issue is addressed on a future agenda, Diekmann said there is an opportunity for the City Council to explore the southwest growth area without forcible annexation and still protect environmen tally-sensitive areas in the Worle Creek area.
“There’s a way the council could choose to move forward with Champlin Farms, without annexing other rural homes,” Diekmann said. “I also think the city does a good job of doing environmental protection through our erosion control, our stormwater ordinances and our infrastructure requirements that exceed county development standards.”
As for Hausner, between regular meetings with neighbors, refresh ing her GoFundMe page, and even considering a career in public office — she intimated that she doesn’t know if her GoFundMe cam paign is “too little or too late.”
But nonetheless, she plans to pursue her goal of protecting her home and Worle Creek.
“I don’t know how many people are going to see this and think I’m crazy or think this isn’t a battle worth fighting,” Hausner said. “But I do. I know people in this community do, too. I urge anyone who doesn’t know how special place is, to visit and see for yourself why we need to protect Worle Creek and southwest Ames.”
If you’d like to contribute to Hausner’s efforts, go to www. gofundme.com/f/SaveTheWorleCreekArea.