Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Where'd the 150 people go?

Last night's LeClaire Park expansion meeting had maybe 20 citizens in attendance, which was a far cry from the 150 that went to the public kickoff meeting. It sounds like Saturday's meeting wasn't any better. From what I'm hearing, quite a few people are filling out the Online Survey located here, so at least the guys from the Design Center tasked with putting together a plan have something to work with. They have also been meeting with small focus groups, such as downtown businesses, the kids' session written about in the paper, etc.

None of the meetings I've been at have shown a clear public consensus. Some people want all grass, some people want a ferris wheel, others want to leave it as parking. Some people like the idea of a restaurant to replace The Dock, others don't want any permanent structures south of River Drive. One interesting thing is I've been able to look at some of the plans from the 80's and 90's, some of which are quite dramatic. Some of the plans from back then really had the casino dominating the riverfront, similar to Bettendorf's current strategy. Of course none of these saw that light of day back when they were being proposed. Go transparency.

Hopefully when a preliminary plan is presented, people will be able to pick things that they are ok with, and others that most people don't like. I find it worrisome that so few people are involving themselves in this, even if you count the hundreds of surveys that have been filled out. If even 300 people help design the expanded LeClaire Park, are 97,000 others going to complain about what's decided?


Socialist Christian Hippie said...

I think that there is a general feeling of disconnect, and, if you've lived here any stretch of time, disbelief.

I don't know how many riverfront plans have been put forward. Most have been shelved, forgotten.

When people were involved, I don't believe they asked for a multi-million dollar art museum, a Roots Music Museum, a new stadium, or a skybridge to nowhere.

These things get proposed, get citizen input, and then the developers and the council do things that are completely different.

The best idea I ever saw was putting an amusement park by the river. That didn't go anywhere.

Anyway, that is why I suggest a "People's Art Park" by the river. A place where the citizens can create art, watch art be created, participate in art, interact with art, interact with the river in a creative way. While, maintaining and building as much green space as possible.

Let the citizens have their say in the most dramatic way possible.

Joe American said...

Great article, Mike. These blogs are good for something other than bitching.

JJ said...

I was @ the Saturday meeting (Tuesday night I was getting my face melted off by Eric Clapton's gutair). Since not many were there to hear my 2 cents I guess I will offer them up here.
Both my ideas are less about what amenities to put in LeClaire Park, and more how to get people in the park to take advantage of them.

Idea #1
What is 95% the reason people do not do things outside in the Midwest.
Answer: Heat, humidity, bugs, Cold, wind, snow.
I propose we construct maybe five 15' by 20' glass enclosures called "Porches". Inside it is always a comfortable 70-degrees. Space them out sinceably though out the parks. They can mirror the architecture of the Figge, and SkyBridge. They perhaps glow a pleasant amber color at night. When inside you feel as if you are still outside, and you can enjoy the river view.
Reasons for these "Porches"
Weather in the Midwest is perfect maybe a dozen days in the year, the rest it can be tuff for people...
The whole family can go spend the day at the park, Mom doesn't have to get sweaty while Dad plays ball with the kids. She can bring them inside for a cool down with out taking them all the way home.
Downtown employees can take lunch in the park with out sweating out their suits. Purchase a pork chop sandwich from the vendor grilling out, and have a place to beat the heat if it gets too miserable out there. Meet the wife for lunch in the park.
Vendors can count on people 365, Street Performers with City Peddlers Licenses have a place to play the guitar, offer massages by the minute, draw characters, paint river views, and god forbid mime, in a comfortable, realistic environment for the midwest. All big cities are fun to walk down the side walk because of the performers.
Have you ever had lunch at LeClaire Park in January? Me neither, but I bet its beautiful. In a lighting storm?
We can sell advertising on small lcd screens inside to pay for them. 70 degrees brought to you by Gabrillson Heating and Air. 70 degrees brought to you by Terry Swails. Lunch in the park brought to you by Swing of the Quad Cities. ETC
All the fun is still outside. And people will take advantage of what ever you put in the park if they know they have a place to take a pit stop in our miserable humid summers and frigid winters. In event of a flood make them removable. Pick them up with a crane. During festivals rent them out to corporations, like luxury suits at the mark. Let them use them as hospitality suits during Blues Fest etc.

Idea #2

90% of the time LeClaire Park is a empty green field.
Every Saturday fields just like this are surrounded by Mini Vans and filled with families at YMCA and Park Board soccer games.
That is the most simple and most affordable way to fill your downtown every Saturday.
Families will be forced downtown and feel the excitement of the river, the charm of the Farmers Market, the electricity of the city. Kids will grow up with fond memories of weekends spent downtown at soccer games, afternoon Swing games, trips to the Figge to paint and play, playing in fountains, watching the boats go by, seeing music and plays, etc.
Festivals will get free advertising. It's so easy to let a festival weekend come and go when you live on 53rd and Kimberly, but much more difficult to resist when the excitement is staring you in the face.
If there is not enough room for the soccer field and a festival, make room in the new area being opened up. Don't move is down to Centennial or Crescent Park, keep it in the central Downtown where businesses can benefit from the influx of people on the weekends. 6 days a week you can put away the goals and its an open field. But on Saturdays have Shin Guard Sales,
Let Davenport Central host a few games a year under the excitement of the Davenport Skyline. Host Playoff Games downtown. Light up the skybridge in the colors of the team when a goal is scored. Have an interstate tournament downtown. Quad Citians rally around few things more than high school athletics. Bettendorf played for years on a field with no bleachers... it can be more fun watching on a lawn chair or a blanket.
Let St. Ambrose host Augustana in a soccer game. Have a band in the band-shell. Open the bars up to 19 year olds that night.
BSA, DSA, club team tournaments...
Let Palmer play rugby matches in the excitement of the city. We have one of the best Rugby Teams in the country and few in the Quad Cites have ever seen a match.
I feel pretty strongly about that second idea.

So... that's all I got.
What do you think?

QuadCityImages said...

I like most of it, and I love the fact that you're thinking way outside the box.

My initial reaction to the glass rooms was somewhat negative, but the more you wrote about them, the more I could see it being a good thing.

I like the idea of having soccer tournaments or championships in LeClaire Park, but I wouldn't want to see weekly games there. Keep the ideas you suggested, but use it as more of a rare reward. I think having games in Centennial Park will bring people downtown as well. Its just a matter of making stuff west of Gaines feel like its part of downtown.

I've always said that during my lifetime I'd like to see the downtown core extend to Marquette, and Centennial Park seems like it has a good chance of causing this. I know there are people looking at building across from the skatepark due to its popularity.

A few people last mentioned using small buses, probably along the lines of Bettendorf's public transit, to circulate people around downtown and throughout Davenport's amenities. I think that idea could go a long way towards connecting Centennial and even Crescent Park to the downtown core.

Great stuff.

mcb said...

Great ideas JJ. Love the sports on the riverfront idea.

Anonymous said...

I vote for the trolleys. Let me park in one of those parking ramps and then take me on a loop to East Village and to the Putnum and the zoo to the West.

WindingHills said...

looks like a lively crowd