Moore Park Observation Tower

Twenty years ago, Moore Park was the home for the new observation tower. Over the years, couples took their wedding photos in front of it, kids climbed up to the top, hearts and initials were carved into the railings and wistful poets and dreamers gazed over the treetops with a view that would rival any painting. It was a place you could go to take in the scenery. Recently, I went to Moore Park and decided to climb up to the top of the observation tower myself. However, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise. The hill where the observation tower had stood was now a bare concrete slab with a lone picnic table. “The observation tower was taken down [in] early February,” Nancy Carroll, director of Ames Parks and Recreation, said. “It had become unsafe and would cost $80,000 [or more] to build a replacement tower. Therefore, it was deemed unwise to invest this amount of funding in a new structure.” When was this decision made and why were the Ames residents not told of it? The tower was one of the highlights of the park and many of the Moore Park frequents loved it – there was nowhere else in Ames quite like it. Couldn’t repairs have been made? Was there some way the observation tower could have been saved? The view from the top of the tower was priceless, a view which could not be seen anywhere else in Ames. Unlike the view of houses, buildings and roads from the top floor of Legends restaurant, this one was different. It seems unfair that it was taken away without Ames residents’ consent or knowledge. If the meetings were publicized, people could have made donations for repairs. Perhaps a benefactor could have been found to finance the repairs and there wouldn’t even be a need to build another tower or take it down. According the the Ames Tribune, “repairing the structure would have cost $15,000 to $20,000,” an amount that could have easily been raised. The repairs cost significantly less than the $80,000 that would be needed to build a replacement tower. The tower had been at Moore Park for twenty years, enough time for it to become an established member of the Ames attractions and enough time for people to to become attached to it. A comment on the Ames Tribune website says, “I took my wife to that tower on our second date. It was where we had our first kiss, looking [over] Ames at night […] Now they destroyed the tower and didn’t even make sure it was well publicized.” A lot of people have memories of the observation tower and it is sad that people weren’t given the chance to raise money and save it. Decisions like these should not be taken lightly. On February 10, the observation tower was taken down quietly, leaving Ames residents to find out on their own about the fate of the structure. Although it is too late for the Moore Park observation tower, perhaps other park attractions can be saved when they are past their prime.