Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 Flood Update: Monday afternoon

Here are today's images.

LeClaire Park, and looking upriver from the Skybridge, which has gotten very popular.

The temporary wall, and the overly-complained-about bridge to the stadium. With a wider bridge, or a couple of them, I think they could have hosted the game tonight. Almost 5000 people found dry places to park for Sunday's game, after all.

I drove through Bettendorf, and they haven't even closed up their floodwall at Leach Park, and it doesn't really look like they plan to. The hinged floodwall sections are still down, and the gate that fits in where the rode is is still sitting in its stand over by the restrooms. I thought I remember them closing that all up for lesser floods than this, but I may be wrong.

Sunday Afternoon's Flood Images

I got out yesterday and took some more pictures. I had hoped to go to the baseball game, but it didn't work out. On a side note, the River Bandits have been turning in some really good attendance numbers, especially for this early in the season with chilly weather. Yesterday's game had almost 5,000 people at it, which may be higher than any game last year.

I should get some additional pictures this afternoon. Since I believe the crest is supposed to be in the middle of the night Monday night-Tuesday morning, this afternoon's may be the highest daylight images.

The temporary berm seems to be working fine so far. As I've said in other places, its cheaper to build a temporary wall every few years than spend $100 million+ on a permanent one that just causes further problems.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Flood Images

Here's a QCTimes article with the volunteer info.
Basically, meet at Union Station at noon and bring gloves.

Here's LeClaire Park as of 11 or so this morning. Notice IOC's flood wall to keep the all-important casino dry.

However, in the image on the left we see something that many of us have wanted to see for a while now. A towboat moored to the Rhythm City barge. I guess they may be considering moving it temporarily to a safer docking area. Or maybe its just in case it gets loose, as I believe the casino can no longer power itself. The waters are getting pretty close to the bottoms of the pedestrian ramps. On the right, we have city crews continuing work on the berm down River Drive.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"We may have to go through with this after all"

City crews begin building a berm down the middle of River Drive.

Despite all the sighs of relief that this year's river flood would not be that bad, looks like it will be hitting us after all.

Here's the QCTimes article about it.

The city had planned for this flood, so hopefully things will work smoothly despite the sudden change in forecasted crests. This spring, the Downtown Partnership has been regularly emailing updates to downtown businesses and stakeholders letting them know what the current crest predictions were, and what city flood protections were being put in place. As you can see from my images and the QCT article, the current plan calls for an earthen berm to be built down River Drive from Iowa Street to the Radisson. Bettendorf will also probably be building their usual temporary berm across River Drive at the border where their floodwall ends.

I called Davenport Public Works and they said they will be putting out a press release by tomorrow morning that details any volunteer needs that they have. I will probably have more images and volunteer details posted tomorrow.

More information about the flood plan can be found at the city website here.

Bettendorf is asking for volunteers to help fill sandbags tonight from 7-11 p.m. and starting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at the city’s maintenance center at 4403 Devils Glen Road. The sandbags will be taken to the Iowa-American Water as a first priority, then remaining sandbags will be distributed as needed. Volunteers should be at least 15 years old and should bring work gloves.

*Bonus Points to whoever can name the 80's movie the title is a quote from.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Dam & Fixer-Uppers

You know its flooding when the Corps of Engineers lift the dam rollers all the way out of the water because the river is the same level above and below the dam. Fortunately the city seems to be on top of the various issues, and as the media has been saying, this flood seems merely inconvenient. But I'm sure that won't stop people from complaining about the city.

I was scanning the real estate websites yesterday, and found a couple interesting ones on West 6th in the Gold Coast area. I'm sure my readers from that area know all about these, but I'll post them anyway. The images are from the Scott County Parcel Summaries.

714 W 6th
Ruhl Listing
County Assessment
Square feet: 4,412
Asking Price: $99,900

This one is already partially renovated, so I'm curious what the story is behind it. Its too bad whoever owned it before its current owner (IH Bank) couldn't finish the restoration.

726 W 6th
Ruhl Listing
County Assessment
Square feet: 5,942!
Asking Price: $145,000

I really like this one, but its enormous! Its so big that its currently split up into 11 apartments. There have to be some serious issues for something that could conceivably bring in $2500 a month to sell for $145k. Hopefully none of our ever-present slumlords go after this one.

Anyone who hasn't spent some time walking around that area should definitely do so now that our 5-month Winter has relented.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Morning Open Thread

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I'm hoping that the sudden and overdue arrival of nice weather will get me back out taking pictures and getting involved in stuff.

For now, here's some news about Sugar, the movie filmed here last summer.

Sony may get some 'Sugar' -Hollywood
Sony Pictures Classics is on the verge of acquiring theatrical rights for the Spanish-language film "Sugar," Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's tale of immigration and baseball.

The company would acquire theatrical rights in North America and a number of Latin American territories. Television rights would remain with HBO, whose HBO Films produced the picture. The status of home video rights was unclear at press time.

Some parties close to the deal, however, emphasized that it hadn't closed yet.

It sounds like it may just hit theaters after all, but its hard to say from the article if it would be widely released or only in "some theaters."

Other than that, and our recent Spring Violence Festival, what else is going on?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scary stuff

Lots of scary things happening lately. I was going to steal Cruiser's tradition of a Thursday rant and complain about Bettendorf, but I'll save that for later.

I spent too much of the night reading articles and (foolishly) the comments on them, about the shooting yesterday in East Moline. I'll admit that I had an early reaction of thinking "One guy arrested for the double murder in RI, one arrest for the armed robberies, and another killed for shooting a cop. 3 criminals off the street." However... its never a good idea to feel good about people going to prison or being killed. On the flip side, there are a lot of people defending the man who was killed yesterday as being practically a saint. Clearly this was not true. As always things online seem to boil down to the extreme sides electronically screaming at each other. One side says good riddance, the others argue that the cops killed the man for no reason. Neither side is really expressing the right emotion if you ask me.

It may be good that some of these criminals are being taken off the street, but its not good that things are having to end this way for people.

Watching the near-riot that was captured by KWQC cameras makes me even more worried. In reading all the news stories and watching TV news, it seems the media is being very careful not to come out and say that the Officer was shot by Mr. Trice. It seems to me that the police are pretty sure this is what happened, but want to make absolute sure being publicly saying it. The only thing worse than people finding out that the Officer was hit by another cop would be for that to come out after people have been told otherwise. Seeing how out of hand people were getting last night, I am frightened to imagine the reaction if this incident turns out to be friendly fire. I hope that all involved can remain calm and let the situation settle down to prevent more violence from occurring.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Morning Assortment

I spent Sunday visiting one of those treasures nearly in our own backyard that I'd never made it to, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I didn't get much sleep before driving up there, so as I struggled to keep my eyes open behind the wheel I frequently thought about how nice it would be to just hop on a train in Moline or even Davenport and end up in downtown Chicago. Unfortunately, I don't know that Amtrak would have been helpful in transporting a couple 7-foot-tall IKEA bookshelves back to the QC. Shedd was great of course, but I came away thinking that Dubuque's Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium looks pretty good in a city 50x smaller than Chicago.

Does anyone else think its odd that the Abbey Hotel is using the Isle of Capri hotels as its reason for changing to a rehab center? I mean, I've never stayed at an IOC property, but are these large casino hotels really targeting the same market as a historic bed and breakfast? It just seems like it would be a completely different demographic.

Why is it that the Bix at 6 debate always turns into an argument between SoLo residents acting like these 6 nights a year are ruining their lives (they aren't) and one or more persons that insults anyone who voices their displeasure with the Bix at 6 system as being "unalthletic," anti-fitness," etc. (not true either) Where are the people working for a compromise? I suppose this 4 practice runs instead of 6 is as close as we'll get this year.

Listening to the police radio the last few nights, it seems like there's been a fight (or several) at the "Drunken Monkey" on Rockingham about every night lately. It seems like its time to look into their liquor license, except the state just handcuffs cities on that issue anyway. When police are forced to be nightly visitors to a bar, is that business really a net positive for the city?

Keith Meyer continues to rant and rave about Steve Ahrens supposedly "taking over" the farmer's market, despite the fact that the vendors remaining downtown will be forming their own group to run the market shortly. Why is it that while most people can admit that other people have different opinions, anyone who disagrees with Keith is either corrupt, incompetent, or an idiot? I have never heard anything along the lines of "I understand your side of the argument, but we'll have to agree to disagree," from him. As far as the market, some people clearly don't realize what a sad running joke the whole "green bean war" was to most Davenport citizens. There were clearly some negative issues with the previous groups, and I hope that this new group can work together like adults instead of drawing a sitcom-style white line down the middle of the farmer's market. Locating a farmer's market at a mall seems contrary to the whole idea of a farmer's market.

Friday, April 11, 2008

2 minor construction projects

They're finally working on the Dillon Fountain, which I have a special place for in my heart because of its prominence in my favorite Quad City image. If you look closely at that image, you can see that even back then the fountain was very much not fountaining.

And in less interesting news, here's a picture I took a week or two ago of the new bathrooms at Garfield Park. These were the types that some wanted to use for Centennial Park. I'm not going to say that would have been the end of the world, but I think the pavilion that is currently under construction will look much better in "Iowa's front porch's" front yard.We'll see what sort of "bathroom humor" comes of this one...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Woodfire Grill Open Thread

Friday I finally made it down to Woodfire Grill. Some friends of mine went there before the Blind Melon concert at the Redstone Room a couple weeks ago, and were unimpressed, so I was slightly worried. Fortunately, I liked it just fine.

The first thing we noticed was that we had to wait! I don't know if I ever went to Centro on a Friday or Saturday night, but I know that I never had to wait for a table. We were told it would be a 20 minute wait, and since we were with friends visited from Ohio, we took a stroll up the Skybridge while we waited. We were seated almost exactly 20 minutes after we checked in. They haven't changed much of the physical setup of the restaurant, so I'm not really sure what they were doing that whole time between Centro closing and Woodfire opening. Training the employees I suppose.

The menu was definitely more diverse than Centro, with more American choices. They had a larger and cheaper selection of sandwiches as well. I would say overall things were a few bucks cheaper than they were at Centro, so that should help their success. I got Chicken Alfredo, which I believe was 11.99, whereas I want to say it was like $13.99 for Fettuccine Alfredo at Centro, with another couple bucks if you wanted to add chicken. My girlfriend got some kind of chicken, bacon and cheese sandwich, and she chose fries as her side. She enjoyed both the sandwich and the fries, and I believe that meal was only like $8.99. There was also bread with cinnamon butter before the meal, which everyone seemed to like.

Overall it was a fine experience, and I was definitely happy to see it so busy. Considering that the prices were comparable to Applebee's or TGI Fridays, but the atmosphere was a whole lot classier, I think Woodfire Grill should do alright. The hostess said she felt their menu would make them popular, but I still think they should learn from Centro's mistake and actually advertise a bit. I'd also like to see them point out the abundance of parking within 50 feet of the restaurant as well. They have a web address, which is, but the website is still under construction. Hopefully they'll at least get the menu online soon.

Other than my little restaurant review, consider this an open thread.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Some Park Thoughts

Centennial Park -They sure didn't waste any time on this one. There is already construction fencing up surround the skatepark to keep the kids IN the skatepark and OUT of the construction zone. Its a good idea, but its must feel like you're in a prison yard at the skatepark now. There's also fencing around the perimeter of the park, even along River Drive. It'll be great to see the finished product.

Fejervary Zoo -I've commented on this before, but I felt the need to mention it again. First of all, I would really hate to see this zoo simply closed. Lock the gate and get rid of the animals? Then all we have is another big abandoned property SoLo. I would want to see a specific plan for the land currently used as a zoo before I could get behind making any big changes or closings. I also don't understand the QCTimes and Mayor Gluba's extreme insistence on closing the zoo. Of course we already have Niabi, and obviously that's our main zoo. To me that doesn't automatically mean there can be no other zoo-type attractions in the QC area. Hopefully we can work out some kind of Mother Goose Land-Petting Zoo compromise that compliments the Putnam, improves Fejervary Park, and doesn't simply lock the gates. Also, does anyone know if the zoo is open this Spring? I know its future is in limbo, but is it already semi-closed? I've actually never been there... I should check it out before its changed or eliminated.

Modern Woodmen Park -They've got a new sign up on the north side of the stadium, and I've read that a new, bigger video board is on its way. After years of the 2-color light board they used to have for displaying messages, I was already impressed with the video screen that was installed during the stadium's 2004 renovation.

West Kimberly Amphitheater- Not really a park, but I felt it fit with the category. Here's the QCTimes article about the progress towards a 40,000-person-capacity amphitheater. Obviously I'm not about to complain about private investment, but I'd still rather see some kind of public-private partnership to build the amphitheater that's proposed for west of Marquette (Crescent Park) in the RiverVision plan. I know I'd rather watch a concert with the Mississippi rolling by behind the stage than sit out in a former cornfield with other farms as scenery. However, I don't believe the Crescent Park amphitheater was supposed to hold nearly as many people, and even if it was I have no idea where they'd park. Alpine Valley's amphitheater (hillside) isn't that big acreage-wise, but the fields for parking 20,000 cars are another story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Riverfront Low-Income Housing Announced*

News Release, 4-1-08:

In a surprise move, City Administrator Craig Malin announced today that the City of Davenport is partnering with John Lewis Community Services to build pushpin-inspired low-income houses in what is now LeClaire Park. The general contractor will be Niky Bowles. As part of the deal, the city will sell LeClaire Park to former Alderman McGivern and developer Steve Schalk for $1, who will then lease the land to JLCS for $145,000 per year. Phil Yerington has already been hired as head of security, and former-Alderman Keith Meyer is interviewing for a position as sidewalk-shoveler. Former-Alderman VanFossen has been surveying the site by spending the last 2 nights sleeping on the ground nearby.

Once the homes are built, they are expected to be rented to those making under $40 per year, with RDA grants available to those unable to afford the rent. The properties themselves will be managed by the Quad City Rental Property Association, which will receive $50,000 a year per home in management fees from the city. Due to the innovative rain-shedding design of the thumbtacks, the stormwater fees will also be waived. Dan Lubell, of the QCRPA, said he was excited to begin the project. "These people just need somewhere to live, so we will only be charging half of their income ($20) per year for rent," he said, "with a $10 discount for those who pledge to vote for Alderman Lynn in 2009." He also mentioned that they are interested in changing to a rent-to-own system to free the tenants from those pesky rental inspections. Tara England Barney, of D1, is excited to "continue the momentum of downtown rebirth, revitalization, resurgence, renovation, and a bunch of other r-words."

*Happy April Fool's Day