Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good news for the Blackhawk, and Pick one: Zoo or Buses

City approves transfer of Blackhawk Hotel -QCTimes

You really had to see Restoration St. Louis's presentation last year to appreciate the possibilities with their renovation of the Blackhawk Hotel, but I think it could be the biggest project for downtown in a lot of years. Hopefully some plans and renderings will be available soon. Its also nice to see the council unanimously approve something...

2 Meetings tonight, but unless you have a Time-Turner, you have to pick one.

1.)Transit public forum
There will be a transit public forum on Thursday, March 27, 2008 at City Hall, at 6:00pm.

Topics will include:
Ø The new hubs at Welcome Way and St. Ambrose
Ø How to get from the hub to the front door of Northpark.
Ø How the hubs will affect current service and improve it.
Ø Fuel (Diesel) prices and other cost factors with Citibus.
Ø Ridership Facts

2.)Fejervary Park Meeting
Thursday, March 27, 2008
6:00 – 8:00 PM
Parks and Recreation Office
Wiese Building
1757 West 12th Street
Davenport, Iowa
Topic for discussion:
The Future of Fejervary Park

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bye Bye Cement Plant Open Thread

Never has such an ugly demolition site looked so good.

Barb Ickes's recent column about it can be found here.

Now if only "Sippis" wasn't the new ugliest building downtown...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Downtown Davenport Project List
and AbsoluteDSM's new QC forum

Over on the AbsoluteDSM forums, they recently rearranged their "Iowa Cities and Development" forum, which is used by people across the state to discuss development news in cities outside of Des Moines. Now instead of having all development news mixed together, it is organized by area, with separate forums for Ames, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Dubuque, Iowa City, the Quad Cities, Sioux City, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls. This means that instead of wading through pages of recent development news from across the state, folks can go directly to the city they're interested in. It also means that smaller news that may not be noteworthy statewide now has more of a place for each of these areas. So those of you that are into that kind of thing, feel free to check it out, or even register.

Over in the Dubuque forum, they've got a handy list of all the current projects going on in their downtown, which was put together by a forum member from Dubuque. Its quite a list, for a city of only 57,000 or so people. It seems like some of the success of the new construction in the Port of Dubuque area is spreading back into their original downtown area, and their warehouse district.

Anyway, I figured that I'd put together a Downtown Davenport Project List, for the new QC-area forum section. Obviously its going to be a work in progress, but here is what I have got so far. Feel free to let me know things that I'm missing, or any errors that I have made in what I have thus far. I'm planning to get out and take some more pictures for some of the buildings that I didn't have great images of in my 10 gigabytes of QCImages. One of things I hope to add are the other planned parks, such as Centennial Park and Crescent Park, and possibly Bechtel/Lincoln Park at 2nd and Iowa. As I said, let me know what else is going on downtown that I may have left off the list. I'm trying to limit the projects to things in the last 5 years, so since 2003.

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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back from Dodgertown Open Thread

I've returned from vacation, saddened by the loss of a great tradition in the Dodgers' spring training camp at Vero Beach, Florida, but ready to get back to the business of blogging.

I hope to put up another post tonight covering a variety of topics. Until then, feel free to think negative thoughts about Glendale, Arizona. And comment on whatever.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weed and Seed Meetings

I got this email, and thought I'd pass it along.

Stakeholder Input Sought for Needs Assessment

March 11, 2008

A group of community leaders, neighborhood representatives and organizations in Davenport has gathered together in an effort to prepare an application for a “Weed & Seed” grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Capacity Development Office. If selected as a Weed & Seed Community the funds will be used initially to address community issues in the area of central Davenport from Division Street to Farnam Street and from Locust Street to the Mississippi River.

The Community Input Committee for this effort will be holding two public meetings to gather information from stakeholders in the area. The first will be Saturday, March 15th, 10am-Noon and the second will be Tuesday, March 18th, 6:00-8:00pm. Both meetings will take place in the Cafeteria at Palmer Chiropractic College. The college is located at 1000 Brady Street, Davenport, IA 52803. The cafeteria is located in the lower level of the Campus Center building which connects to the skywalk on the east side of Brady St. Parking is available east of the building.

Attendees of these meetings will be asked to identify the needs of the area as well as what current programs are already working to improve the quality of life in Davenport which could be expanded. Although these meetings are open to the public, stakeholders located within the area of central Davenport outlined above are especially welcome. The quality of this needs assessment will be determined by the participation level of stakeholders.

The local Weed & Seed mission is “To improve the overall quality of life in targeted Davenport Weed & Seed neighborhoods by applying crime prevention and community development strategies in concert with law enforcement professionals, community residents, government and private organizations, educators, and other community stakeholders.” Additional information about the Weed & Seed program can be found at

Danielle L. Stone
Weed & Seed Community Input Committee Chair
(563) 508-4356

Roy D. DeWitt
Neighborhood Services Specialist
Economic Development

Jennifer A. Nahra
Communications Director
(563) 326-6151

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

STS-123 Space Shuttle Launch

We were lucky enough to be able to watch a nighttime space shuttle launch, although from 15 or 20 miles away on Cocoa Beach. Due to the low cloud cover, the shuttle was only visible for a few seconds before disappearing into the clouds. It was still quite an experience though, and I'm glad I was able to see one before the shuttles are retired in 2010.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm out of here!

Just in time for the warm-up, I'm taking a quick vacation. We'll call this an open thread. Keep it civil around here, and hopefully I'll put up a couple posts this week.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nuts to the Isle

Land casino coming to Bettendorf; riverboat will remain in Davenport -QCTimes

We need, as citizens, to absolutely demand that IOC is either sued, or removed as the operator of the Davenport gaming license. I thought I remembered Mary Ellen saying that they are legally required to make efforts towards a maximum profit or something legalese, which clearly they aren't doing for the Davenport operation. Bring in a real casino company that has nothing to do with Bernie and his constant screwing of Davenport. Maybe they'd take me up on my casino-hotel-indoor waterpark plan.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Open Thread

Haven't had one of these for a little while. I've just got a couple conversation-starters.

I rarely venture into Bettendorf. Not counting the routes to get to I-74, I probably average less than one trip a month. There's just no need for me to go over there. I'd read news stories about them filling their potholes with cement, and seen all the Davenport-bashing comments wondering why Davenport's too stupid to do that. I was surprised to discover that their streets are just as crappy as ours.

Over on Cruiser's blog I commented that the site at 15th and Main where those 2 garage-shaped houses were built would have been an excellent site to move the Henry Deutsch House to. Just a quick trip down the street from its former location at 2101 to the 1500 block.

I miss Dairy Queen. I miss waiting for the Locust Street DQ to open for the summer. I have a lot of memories of standing around those concrete planters, peering through the screens at the ice cream machines and dip cones, and watching out for various bees, insects and spiders that seemed to hang out in the area. I also miss going down to the Bettendorf State Street location if we wanted a meal instead of just ice cream. Driving all the way out to 53rd isn't the same; maybe I should try the Middle Road one... Now I sound like Bill Wundram.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Winter Freight House Market: Great Success

Today is this month's Freight House Farmer's Market, and the first one I've bee able to make it to. If you're reading this before 3pm today, hop on down there. I watched the QCTimes video of the last one, but I didn't expect nearly so many people. We arrived within 10 minutes of the official opening, and as you can see in the image to the right, the lot was already packed.

It turned out that the whole place was packed. It was great to see so many people downtown for this, and I think the monthly winter markets could be made into weekly winter markets. I definitely look forward to summer, when hopefully both farmer's markets can come together and share the space both in and around the Freight House. With the new playground, the potential for bands, and a lot of good things to eat, it should be a heck of a bi-weekly event for downtown. I also am looking forward to the repainting of the space formerly occupied by Banana Joes!