Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weed and Seed, Walking, Parks

Community members share ideas for "Weed and Seed" program -QCTimes

Tuesday night I was able to attend the 2nd Weed and Seed meeting. Unfortunately there were only a 15 or 20 people there, but it was still a very worthwhile meeting. It was interesting to see the differences in ambition of attacking some of the problems of the target area. If I remember correctly, the targeted area stretches from Division to Farnam, and from Locust to the river. Some want to address the culture of disrespect and hopelessness that is at the core of these problems, while others addressed the practical, like having more city garbage cans. Some emphasized that we need to get kids into small group situations to have an impact, while others argued that at least with group activities you've got the kids off the streets. I pointed out that one-on-one interaction is great, but I'd still rather have kids playing basketball at the friendly house than breaking into garages. One thing was certain, and that was that everyone there wanted better things for SoLo, and was willing to work for them.

Davenport: 4th-worst walking city -QCTimes

I pretty much found this ranking to be a bunch of garbage. Should Davenport be in the upper half on walkability? Probably not. Everything north of Kimberly was built for cars and people who have them. We're still catching up on simply having sidewalks along major streets like Welcome Way. However, I don't think we deserve the near-bottom ranking we got. According to the article, one of the factors was parks per square mile.

Davenport (ranked 496th) has around 2200 acres of parkland, a population of 99,514, and total city area of 64.9 square miles.
Des Moines (ranked 44th) has around 3221 acres of parkland, a population of 193,886, and total city area of 77.2 square miles.
Chicago (ranked 77th) has around 7300 acres of parkland, a population of
2,833,321, and total city area of 237 square miles.

This comes out to:

1 acre of park for every 45 citizens in Davenport.
1 acre of park for every 60 citizens in Des Moines.
1 acre of park for every 388 citizens in Chicago.

33.89 acres of park per square mile in Davenport.
41.72 acres of park per square mile in Des Moines.
30.80 acres of park per square mile in Chicago.

I consider Des Moines a very walkable city. Davenport's trail system is great, but DSM's is greater. So I'm impressed that we hold our own against them in parks per square mile, and actually have more parks per capita than both them and Chicago. Obviously this is only one component of the "walkability ranking" but I would say our large amount of parkland per person should at least move us out of the bottom 20 cities by itself. As someone commented on one of the news articles, its possible every year this magazine changes their rankings around to sell a few more magazines.

...and finally
Davenport City Council: Park's price tag debated -QCTimes

Its the skatepark pavilion all over again, and actually I believe that same pavilion is part of the $2.9 million that was bid. The city has already budgeted $3.81 million for this, for Pete's sake. Not only was the River Vision plan for Centennial Park created at public meetings which many of the negative people chose not to attend, but this money has already been approved in the budget by the city council. One of the problems is that to some of the people on the council, in their minds we're still living in the time of 33 cent gas and roller skates for a quarter. Finishing Centennial Park even ranked highly on their "goal setting" sessions or whatever they're called. If this is too much money, why did they budget even more for the project? Lets get moving on this, like we all said at the River Vision meetings.


Anonymous said...

I've been traveling out of town recently, and when Iog on and read about how people in the Quad-Cities, and Davenport in particular, rage against spending anything on any type of improvement, it really embarrasses me.

In other parts of the country, citizens take pride in wonderful public construction - piers, parks, monuments, bridges, etc.

In the Quad-Cities, though, everyone wants to do things on the cheap or not at all.

It's pretty pathetic.

Also, regarding the walking issue - Davenport is a terrible city to walk in. When I moved to the QC, it immediately struck me how car-centric the communities are. Not to mention no one is willing to use a freaking parking ramp and expects to be able to pull up directly to the front door of wherever they're going.

QuadCityImages said...

I wouldn't say that "everyone" is against spending money. Look at River Renaissance. The Figge, Skybridge, parking ramps, etc, were voted for by over 70% of the people who voted. Library referendums, school referendums, Niabi Zoo referendums, the 2nd jail referendum... Quad City people are willing to pay for a better quality of life. There is just a very loud minority that oppose everything.

As far as walkability, I'm not trying to say we should have been in the top 100, but I am pretty sure I can think of 50 or 100 cities worse than Davenport for walking.

pioneer98 said...

I haven't seen what cities are on the walkability list, but my gosh. If you've ever been to Texas, Arizona, or just about to any of the "newer" Western and Southern cities, they're all WAY worse than the Quad Cities for walking. For any cities built in the last 20 years you are lucky if there are even sidewalks. I'd say just based on that alone we should be somewhere in the 50 or 60th percentile. Then throw in the parks and it should be even higher.

How do you measure "walkability"? Davenport's core downtown area seems very "walkable" to me. I routinely walk anywhere from 3 blocks to 1 mile in my neighborhood…so yes, it might just be "walkable". Davenport's major thoroughfares aren't very walkable, but show me a city who's major thoroughfares ARE walkable. Anymore, in larger cities, the major roads are highways. Oh well, I'm pretty sure the magazine folks have never even been here.

And don't forget: it's the loud minority that are questioning the Centennial Park spending. It's posturing as much as anything. The majority of people are in favor of it, they're just quieter about it.

Anonymous said...

An interesting website for walkability is walk score
Look at how downtown rates compared to other parts of town.

I'm glad you were able to make it to the meeting.

Anonymous said...

If we consider the downtown the mainpart fo the city, it isn't too walkable really. For many reasons. There isn't much down there and the surroudning areas are really crime and garbage ridden. Clean them up and we may actually attract more stuff downtown and people will want to walk there.

pioneer98 said...

Using the Walk Score link, downtown addresses generally scored around 85. My address scored a 51. About what I'd expect, I guess.

Anonymous said...

This particular ranking comes from Prevention Magazine, which explains the criteria it used here:

Note that the green space factor is not the ratio of park acreage to total acreage, but the number of parks per square mile. Davenport has a few very nice parks, but doesn't have very many parks. There are some cities where there's a public playground in almost every neighborhood.

Note also that violent crimes per capita and the percentage of people who walk to work are also "heavily weighted" criteria. I'd guess Davenport scores poorly on both of those fronts.

Anonymous said...

That link was broken. Try this one instead.

Anonymous said...

"The Figge, Skybridge, parking ramps, etc, were voted for by over 70% of the people who voted."

I really wish more people would remember this incredibly important statistic. That number always gives me hope for the quiet majority's power through the vote.

Anonymous said...

I think our standards are low in this town. We need to gentrify if we are going to improve ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Images, what do you think the reason is for our low ranking on the Forbes list as a place to do business?

QuadCityImages said...

I would say the reasons go:

#1. No public university
#2. Crime rate
#3. No public university!

We really get hammered on the education quotient, whereas our cost of living is great.

Personally though, I think the QC should be a lot closer to Cedar Rapids in the ranking, whether that means them up or us down. I don't see them as super friendly for business.

Anonymous said...

We have a low reputation for doing business because historically our City government has made it very difficult to do. We have a notorious rep among developers for being overly difficult to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Give am example from the develop standpoint.

Anonymous said...

The ink was barely dry on a $135.8 million City Hall budget when Des Moines City Council members learned that fiscal storm clouds on the horizon could make a property tax increase necessary in 2010.

City Manager Rick Clark said the 2009-10 budget has a projected $5.2 million hole that could deepen with the nation's real estate crisis and ever-rising insurance costs. Clark said employee insurance costs are anticipated to rise 18 percent, and property values could decrease in areas with high foreclosures.

Anonymous said...

We don't seem to have the same aforthought here in D town.

Pho3niX said...

I'm guilty. I just moved last year from a walkscore of 52 to a walkscore of 9! But, I still have everything I need where I live so I guess even that ranking criteria is meaningless to me.

+1 to what Pioneer said. Albuquerque, NM... beautiful surroundings, ugly city... and NOT walkable.

FWIW - Davenport and DSM were on parallel revitalization paths about 20 years ago... and several ineffective councils that pandered to "the loud minority" set us back at LEAST a decade. With our current Mayor and City Council I feel that we're finally on the right track. (Provided that our government can remain "representative" and avoid the political positioning that inevitibly sets in around the start of year two...)

BTW - At a recent forum the schools were listed as the primary reason that development avoided Davenport. With DCSD cutting more positions I really don't see that improving any too soon. Is Promise the answer?!? Oh, filthy rich anonymous benefactor... where for art thou?