Creston’s new Director of Housing Development Ethan Standard was introduced at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Standard, a graduate of Iowa State University, got his start in transit planning for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit, or DART. After five years, he knew he wanted to do more in supporting people personally. He joined health insurance company Wellmark in a Healthy Hometown initiative. Through this initiative he found Creston.
“Creston is a Healthy Hometown and one of the first communities that we did a walking around workshop, which was one of my primary responsibilities as part of the Healthy Hometown program,” Standard said. “Creston was one of them that I did that very first year. There were only a handful of communities that really kind of stood out to me or stuck with me in terms of the potential that they held and the opportunity that was there to make things even better than they are right now.”
Standard left the company when Wellmark sunset the program. However, he continued to work in community and neighborhood building through repairing dilapidated homes in the Des Moines neighborhood of Oak Park.
Standard said the variety in his background will help in his new role in Creston.
“When this opportunity came up, I was like, hmmm, I remember Creston very well,” Standard said. “I knew the people that were kind of shepherding progress in the community, there are good key players in place, and I just saw so much potential and I thought my skill set, being a planner in the background and having gone through multiple home renovations myself.”
While Standard has only been in the position for a few days, he believes Creston has good potential.
“There’s a ton of potential uptown,” Standard said. “This job is not going to be all about uptown, but when you look at communities that have kind of started to solve their housing issues city-wide… The downtown is the heart of your community, so if your heart’s not beating, it’s really hard to get blood to the rest of your town.”
Standard explained that while he might be the director of housing development, he wants to focus on the whole picture.
“I’m going to be dabbling in so many other things because there are so many external factors that impact housing itself, everything from infrastructure to parks,” Standard said. “I’m kind of figuring out where the need is there, what programs those will be and what they will look like and what money will be involved.”
For now, Standard plans on staying in Des Moines, commuting to Creston for his position.
“That’s not to say it’s forever,” Standard said. “My wife stays at home with our two boys, I have a five-year-old and a two-year-old. It’s a lot to uproot your family instantly like that.”
Standard said he is still thinking about purchasing property in Creston.
While Standard has only been in Creston for a few days, he wants community members to know he’s here for them.
“I’m here to help. If you want to talk to me, come talk to me. I’m willing to meet with anyone, anywhere,” Standard said. “I just hope to learn a lot from everyone in the community and listen and go from there. I know, in the two days I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot.”
In other city council news...
Councilmember Kiki Scarberry brought forward the possibility of Traffic Engineering Assistance Program funding in order to add pedestrian signals and other safety features to the intersection of S. Sumner Ave. and W. Adams St. While costs of the project itself are unknown, engineering would cost about $40,000.
Councilmember Richard Madison asked why this was being pursued when a previous plan with the Iowa DOT to take Sumner from four to three lanes would take care of this issue, with the DOT paying all costs. Scarberry explained she did not pursue this option due to the idea being voted down by the same council serving now.
Voting on application for the funding was approved to be on the next agenda, while councilmembers Madison and Josh Thompson said they would not be in favor until the council reconsidered the DOT plan.
The city council approved an ordinance amending Chapter 137 - provision pertaining to vacation and disposal of streets. The amendment vacates and closes off “the alley lying between lots one and eight on the west and lots two and three on the east, block three, Higbee &. Baker’s First Addition.” The first reading was approved, with the second and third readings being waived.
The Iowa Public Information Board has decided not to approve the acceptance of a complaint filed by Creston resident Ruth Bolinger regarding the council’s alleged violation of Iowa Code chapter 21. This chapter refers to the requirement that official meetings be open to the public.
While the IPIB did not approve the acceptance of the complaint, they did recommend the council goes through IPIB training on open meetings and public records law and that they develop a policy regarding this law.
The council has scheduled IBIP training for Nov. 2