Monday, December 14, 2009

Old News: River Gulf, Blackhawk, Farmers Market

There were a few things I wanted to say about some news that happened over the last few weeks, so here goes:

River Gulf says latest extension will be the last -QCTimes

This debate definitely has two sides. On one hand, the River Gulf operation is certainly an eyesore, and like many of the late Bernie Goldstein's operations, it seems to enjoy screwing over the city of Davenport. The city owns the land, yet the property rights folks aren't coming out in droves to argue with people saying the city has no business not renewing their lease! Its almost like they only believe in that stuff when it suits them...

Anyway, on the other side you have the fact that Davenport only developed in the first place because of riverfront industry. I actually wrote a letter to the editor years ago defending the idea of industry on the riverfront unless Davenport had a better use in mind. The annoying harping by the biased QCTimes isn't helping either. The thing I find most humorous about the QCTimes complaining, is that I can imagine a situation where 10 years down the line their building is the ugliest thing within 10 blocks and all the new downtown residents start asking why they need this newspaper warehouse taking up prime land so near the riverfront.

So now it seems that Davenport officials actually are trying to redevelop the east fringe of downtown, so there's a little more reason for River Gulf to get the boot. The Levee Commission was picked by our elected officials to make these kinds of decisions, and if they do anything too crazy, those that appointed them will not be reelected. River Gulf has been anything but honorable or cooperative in this entire process, so I've lost a lot of sympathy for their plight. I just hope that come next spring they don't trot out another tired reason that their move is behind schedule (spring floods, anyone?) and try to extend their lease yet again.

Davenport Club returns — sort of -QCTimes

I was very happy to read this article. Everything I had been reading about the Blackhawk restoration made it sound like the top floor would be used for apartments. I was hoping it could still be some kind of restaurant, and now it sounds like that will be the case after all. Just like many older people have memories of the Davenport Club, I have memories of my Senior Prom dinner at High Notes, which was the later, public incarnation of the Davenport Club. Even though a lot of the view is blocked by the MidAmerican Building, I'm still glad that this neat space will be a public space rather than apartments. I would hope that they'll keep the glass elevator as well. This project is going to be a huge thing for downtown Davenport.

Farmer's market request space on riverfront -QCTimes

This one is pretty funny. The childish folks that run the Mall Parking Lot Farmer's Market want to come back to the riverfront. They refused to even be adjacent to the Freight House Farmer's Market because they don't follow the same rules about where vendors can get their food. So they moved to the mall, which is pretty much the exact opposite entity from a Farmer's Market in the first place. While the Freight House Farmer's Market was more successful than ever this summer, the Mall Parking Lot Market... wasn't.

I would compare this a bunch of kids playing basketball. Three of the kids decide they don't like the rules being used, so they storm off to play X-Box instead. They look out the window and see that the game they've left looks fun, and has lots of spectators now. They head out to play again, but instead of owning up to their mistake and asking to rejoin the game, they start a game of 2-on-1 on the next court over, which everyone ignores. The folks who were too snobby to even be near the Freight House folks need to swallow their pride, and merge with the Freight House Farmer's Market. Downtown and the riverfront doesn't need a 2nd farmer's market causing the same parking traffic-vs-pedestrian problems that started all of these changes in the first place.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Day Open Thread

Even though the weather and roads in town aren't too bad, kids mostly get the day off today. It sounds like things out in the country are getting pretty crazy.

Here are a few images from Vander Veer Park this morning:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Eleventy Billion Jobs to Bettendorf: Just sign here!

We have a new winner in the category of "Most ridiculously overblown development hyping":

Advocates ask Bettendorf to invest $4.3 M in I-80 development -QCTimes

"Seeing an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, millions of square feet of office and retail space and as many as 10,000 new housing units, the Bettendorf Development Corporation has agreed to ante up $500,000 to expand water and sewer lines to Interstate 80 and Middle Road if the city invests $4.3 million in the project.

Rob Fick, president of the private, non-profit community development organization, and developer Kevin Kellner, who also is a member of the group, told the Bettendorf City Council it is essential to invest a total of $6.8 million worth of improvements to attract high-tech companies in economic sectors such as insurance, health care, finance, multi-nationals and graphic production.

Van Dyke said the project is ripe for grant money because it will create up to 16,500 new office jobs. “The whole crisis with the state is about income tax. Creating new employment creates income tax and helps solve the problem.”

I wonder why they stopped at 16,500 jobs? Were 17,000 or 20,000 just too silly? And 10,000 new housing units also seems like a lowball estimate. Surely if all of these acres were covered by 60 story buildings they could fit way more jobs and residential units in than that. After all, the location has such a beautiful view of... nothing, and quick access to the same interstate that every other business/commerce park in the Iowa QC already offers... All it takes a little sprucing up and multinationals will be beating down Bettendorf's door.

This relegates the previous champion of great expectations , former Alderwoman Howard's claim that the Freight House Farmer's Market would create $50+ million in surrounding development, to a distant second place.

Niky Bowles's "best development ever" is sadly knocked down to third place.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black and Blue Saturday? Not in the QC

While the surplus commercial materialism of "Black Friday" can be over the top at times, I've always looked at the sales as an adventure. Since I'm normally awake all night anyway its no big deal to go out at 5:30 in the morning. Sam's has their free breakfast, although they ran out way too early this year, and there are usually some good deals on DVDs and such. Target had a great deal on LED Christmas lights, but they really need to figure out a better way to get people through the checkout lanes there. The good thing is that I didn't see any fighting, yelling, or any of the other stuff you always hear about in relation to yesterday's events. People in line at Target were talking about where they found various items, which lines were fastest, and random chit chat. I wasn't out for any store openings, so maybe that's where all the trouble is. By the time we stopped by Wal Mart they were out of about everything from their ad, and the store was practically empty.

So whether I wasn't out at the right time to see it, or if there just wasn't any, I certainly didn't see any trouble between our fellow Quad Citians during the shopping madness. I haven't read much in the national news about any incidents, so hopefully people have learned to take a more relaxed attitude towards Christmas shopping. Its the only way to have a good time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 Festival of Trees Parade Images

Yesterday was another beautiful day for the annual Festival of Trees Parade. We went in to the actual Festival of Trees as well, which I hadn't done in quite a while. It was kind of surreal looking at Christmas trees and decorations while a dance troupe was performing to Britney and Janet Jackson pop songs, but it was still a fun time. The only negative thing was that the MidAmerican garage parking system was not working correctly at all. When I went in to park the gates were up, so I figured it was either "$2 event parking" as you leave, or free parking. When we left the parking attendant asked what time we came in, and charged accordingly. Pretty strange, and pretty unfair to those who figured gates up meant free parking as it usually does. Oh well, one problem certainly doesn't ruin a great day and a great event. It seemed like an even larger turnout than usual.

Here's the pictures:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Morning Assortment

Lots of stuff going on today, including the Holiday Parade, Holiday Pops Concert, and the Wine-to-Water fundraiser. The Midwest Trains HO Model Railroading Club is also having an open house at their location in Bettendorf. There's plenty more going on, so check out your favorite community calendar. I should have some pictures from some of these later.

Other than all the stuff going on this weekend, there's been some stuff going on this week as well.

I got an email saying that the typo in the casino cover letter available below was only in an early draft, and was corrected before the final printing of the brochures that were handed out in Vegas. I figured this was probably the case, because the boldface type made it pretty obvious.

The former strip club on Welcome Way is suing the city for not allowing them to break the law and locate two adult businesses so close to each other. Mike Meloy, of course, is the lawyer for the plaintiff. Does he do anything else but represent people suing the city?

River Gulf Grain wants yet another extension on their riverfront lease. I'm not sure where they think they'll get any credibility, considering that they've yet to live up to a single promise or agreement they've made with the city. I'd be fine if the city just turned down their extension request, but if they're going to "work with them" (get taken advantage of by them) then I hope they at least make it cost them this time. If they're late next time, $10,000 a day doesn't seem unreasonable. After all, if the river floods next spring they'll insist they need to stay open until Fall 2010...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Images! Hilltop District Conceptual Drawings

I'm involved with the Hilltop Campus Village project, which is part of Main Street Iowa's Urban Neighborhood District program. Basically the idea is to inject new life and create more of a campustown feel in the general area between Ripley and Perry, and between 5th and Locust. As part of this process, the Iowa Department of Economic Development paid a Design Consultant to draw up some conceptual drawings of some potential facade improvements along the corridor. Here are five of them (one has two angles), and I think they all look good. Hopefully we see some real progress on this. One of the things that I like about these suggestions is that few of them would require very large expenditures, yet all of them together would make quite an impact on the Hilltop District.

As always, click on the images for a closer look.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Casino operator-attracting brochure images

Here is some of the stuff that is apparently being handed out at the gaming convention in Las Vegas in order to attract a new operator for Davenport's gaming license.

Also, the brochure and cover letter can be downloaded here and here.

All in for a new casino operator

City leaders in Las Vegas to pitch Davenport's gaming license -QCTimes

Finally some progress on the effort to boot IOC out of Davenport and get a casino operator that actually maximizes the revenue from Davenport's gaming license. That is, I believe, the official requirement for the Riverboat Development Authority, and it isn't at all happening right now. When a casino operator admits publicly that your city is their secondary operation in the metro area, that is not maximizing revenue. When a casino operator closes more features of your city's casino every year, that is not maximizing revenue. When a casino operator signs an agreement to build a new hotel, give up parking lots, and tear down an eyesore abandoned restaurant, but doesn't do any of that, that's not maximizing anything for Davenport except riverfront ugliness.

Here's hoping the city will find someone interested in investing $150M or so in exchange for the right to have people willing show up to lose their money. Its not exactly a tough business to make a profit in. Out of the 3 locations suggested in the brochure, I like either the current site of the Ground Transportation Center, or the underused green space next to the River Center on 2nd Street. The current site of the abandoned Howard Johnson motel is good too, but its too disconnected from the downtown core. Maybe a certain City Administrator will provide us with a pdf file of the brochure to peruse. Anyway, good luck to the guys down in Vegas. The Mayor's been hinting at big plans for the casino for years now, so it'd be nice to see some real action.

Tomorrow: Hilltop District Conceptual Renderings

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Morning Assortment

Just a few random tidbits today.

If you didn't notice the blurb in the QCTimes, the new Crescent Cleaners in the tiny former gas station, former burger joint building at 4th and Iowa is now open. This should provide downtown residents and employees both with a convenient downtown option for one of their day-to-day services.

The railroad embankment brush-clearing continues even outside of downtown. I'm not sure if this is a project by the railroad at this point, or still a city thing. On one hand, the volunteer trees are basically just giant weeds, but sometimes what's behind them isn't much better to look at. It does make for fewer hiding spots for homeless camps, however.

The building at Rusholme and Arlington that used to house Cottage Corner is currently being demolished to make way for, from what I've heard, more parking for St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. This building was really in disrepair, but it seems like something different could have been done other than a parking lot. From watching some of these churches over the last year you'd think the biggest problem facing religion in America today is insufficient parking.

Work on the Harrison Hilltop Neighborhood continues. There are some conceptual renderings for a few potential facade improvements floating around. The one for the Harrison Hilltop Theatre can be found on their Facebook page, and I'm hoping to get a few more to post on the blog.

As someone pointed out in the comments on my last post, the downtown bar and grill Sippis has apparently closed for the Winter. They seemed to always have a good crowd out on the patio whenever I was downtown this summer, so I was surprised to see this. Maybe there was more market for the outdoor dining than the indoor. Either way, I hope they return in the Spring.

And here's a picture of the progress on the 7th Judicial District building between Main and Brady Streets. Looks like they got the exterior work done in time to beat the snow.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Someone extra happy about free yardwaste collection

Sorry about the lack of posts, but I've been enjoying this July weather we're having in November. Here's a house that got some serious raking done this week. I count at least 50 bags in this picture, which would cost quite a fortune to dispose of at $1.60 a bag during non-free yard waste collection weeks. Folks in Rock Island that are still complaining about free collection with free paper bags don't know how good they have it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

2009 City of Davenport Election Numbers

Here are all the results, even for uncontested races. The percentages are of those people correctly casting votes, and the undervotes are those people who did not select a candidate for the position. The number of voters who filled out ballots for each race is listed as well. My amateur analysis of these numbers will come later.

Mayor (5724 voters)
Bill Gluba 4749 votes, 94.96%
Write-Ins 252 votes, 5.04%
Undervotes: 723

At-Large (5724 voters, 2 votes each)
Jason Gordon 3437 votes, 35.01%
Gene Meeker 3298 votes, 33.60%
Robert Ortiz 1823 votes, 18.57%
Keith Meyer 1207 votes, 12.30%
Write-Ins 51 votes, 0.52%
Undervotes: 1632

1st Ward (467 voters)
Nathan Brown 382 votes,
Write-Ins 28 votes, 6.83%
Undervotes: 57

2nd Ward (682 voters)
Bill Edmond 426 votes, 63.11%
Rick Gaghagen 248 votes, 36.74%
Write-Ins 1 vote, 0.15%
Undervotes: 7

3rd Ward
(555 voters)
Bill Boom 364 votes, 66.30%
Paul Vasquez 182 votes, 33.15%
Write-Ins 3 votes, 0.55%
Undervotes: 6

4th Ward
(642 voters)
Ray Ambrose 557 votes, 95.54%
Write-Ins 26 votes, 4.46%
Undervotes: 59

5th Ward (812 voters)
Bill Lynn 503 votes, 62.64%
Audra Cornwell 299 votes, 37.24%
Write-Ins 1 vote, 0.12%
Undervotes: 9

6th Ward (1245 voters)
Jeff Justin 1074 votes, 98.08%
Write-Ins 21 votes, 1.92%
Undervotes: 150

7th Ward (736 voters)
Barney Barnhill 578 votes, 93.38%
Write-Ins 41 votes, 6.62%
Undervotes: 117

8th Ward (585 voters)
Mike Matson 497 votes, 97.45%
Write-Ins 13 votes, 2.55%
Undervotes: 75

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Results are In

The winners of the contested races in the 2009 City of Davenport Election are:

Gene Meeker and Jason Gordon, At-Large

Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward

Bill Boom, 3rd Ward

Bill Lynn, 5th Ward

Vote Today!

If you live in Davenport, or one of the many other places with elections today, don't forget to stop by your polling place and vote. I'll be doing it in a few minutes here, so those of you who disagree with me had better show up to cancel me out!

Call this an open thread, but also if you've got predictions of who wins and who loses, bring 'em on.

One sure prediction: Gluba, Brown, Ambrose, Justin, Barnhill and Matson will still be in the council chambers next year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

QCI Endorsements: 2009 Edition

I'm going to try to keep this short, as all of my picks are surely unsurprising to anyone who reads this regularly. I also think that its worth mentioning that the lack of challengers really does send a message that Davenport residents are satisfied with the direction the city is headed. When controversial items like the stormwater fee pop up, everyone wants to run for city council. When things are smooth sailing, people are content to stick with the status quo. Here are my picks, including quick blurbs about the uncontested races as well.

Mayor - Bill Gluba is a bit too much of a politician for my tastes, but he certainly is an enthusiastic cheerleader for Davenport. He deserves reelection.

At-Large - Gene Meeker and Jason Gordon. Meeker has done a good job of being the voice of experience and dignity on the council, so he certainly deserved reelection. Ian Frink has been my favorite Alderman during his time on the council, and I am sorry to see him go. He appointed Jason Gordon to the Parks Commission, and recommended him for city council as well. I'm going to trust Ian and believe that Mr. Gordon will be the most similar successor. Despite the crazy conspiracy theories about his political connections, if he can gain the respect of liberal Shelley, he can't be much of a right wing activist.

1st Ward - Nathan Brown has been a great alderman, both in representing the wishes of his ward, and being open to both sides of the amenity/infrastructure debate.

2nd Ward - I don't really know much about either of these guys. I wish Cooper was running again. For an endorsement, I will go with Bill Edmond, just because he's done a reasonable job during his partial term. I may not agree with some of his votes, but his ward probably does. At least he talks less than Hamerlinck...

3rd Ward - Bill Boom, of course. I've been a Boom supporter for years, and he's done an excellent job in his 2 years on the council. His supposed lack of responding to service request-type issues is more than made up for his big picture and teamwork skills on the council.

4th Ward - Nobody? Ambrose is a product of his time, but that time is the past. Its disapointing that he didn't have a challenger.

5th Ward - Audra Cornwell. I was able to meet her a few weeks ago, and she seems to have a good grasp of the issues facing Davenport. Bill Lynn has been considerably less terrible these past 2 years, but that doesn't eliminate the things he did in the past. Getting rid of the rental inspection department, bringing in slumlord-friendly ordinances, and consistently siding with the anti-downtown crowd aren't signs of a good Alderman. I don't know that his Libertarian agenda truly represents the wishes of the 5th ward.

6th Ward - Even though I sometimes forget his name, Jeff Justin has done a fine job on the council.

7th Ward - Barney Barnhill just keeps hanging in there. His years of experience on the council and good voting record have earned him another term.

8th Ward - Mike Matson, who recently received an award for his work with the ROTC, has been an asset to the council. With the importance of the Arsenal, hopefully his military connections can benefit all of us.

Complete Un-Endorsement: Keith Meyer. While he may well have been one of the best Alderman ever at responding to requests from his constituents about graffiti, potholes, etc, there is a lot more to being on the city council than service requests. Actively working to derail development, constantly speaking negatively about his city, arguing with city staff, and turning the council chambers into a circus are things we do not need from an Alderman. Give him a job tracking down potholes and graffiti throughout the city and maybe we can all be happy.

As far as Predictions, I will take all of my picks except for Cornwell. I hope she wins, but Lynn has been reelected when he deserved to lose too many times already. That will be the race to watch Tuesday, in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

QCTimes Davenport endorsements are up

Times endorsements: Davenport Council -QCTimes

Some pretty surprising ones here, including Lynn for 5th Ward and Ortiz for At-Large. I'm planning to put together my endorsements today or tomorrow morning, but I can reveal that I certainly won't be in lockstep with the QCTimes.

Maybe I'll surprise everyone and vote for Keith?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Drive 2009

I've been busy lately with a lot of stuff, but we managed to get away yesterday for the annual fall drive. Last year was Mississippi Palisades State Park, so this year we headed south to Wildcat Den State Park, and the Pine Creek Grist Mill. Back in 2007 we got there after most of the leaves had fallen, and sadly this year the results were similar, despite going almost 2 weeks earlier. After leaving Wildcat Den we went south through Muscatine, and crossed over to the Illinois side for the return trip, including a swing through Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. In addition to missing the fall colors peak, the cloudy afternoon started to get too dark for photos. Here are the few I took that I felt were worth posting.

Wildcat Den State Park, a perennial fall drive favorite.

The Pine Creek Grist Mill, in Wildcat Den State Park. There's a bit more color than my photo from 2007, but I'm sure things really looked good before all the rain helped bring the leaves down.

Looking downstream from the Grist Mill area.

I'd never been up to the Mark Twain Lookout above Muscatine, and that was definitely worth seeing, but by then it was getting too dim out for good photos. Here's the view, anyway. Maybe I'll dust off PhotoShop and try to brighten some of these up.

I have several posts I'd like to get done this week, including some stuff about the election, the first Mallards game, and the trip to Omaha and South Dakota I took last weekend. We'll see if I get them written and posted!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google Maps meets the Wayback Machine

Here is the website that I used to find the 1930 aerial picture of the intersection of Kimberly and Brady seen in the previous post.

Iowa DNR Interactive Map

It works mostly the same way as Google Maps or Mapquest, or even more similarly, the Davenport GIS system that I linked to a while back.

In order to find an old aerial picture of an area, just zoom in on the area, and then over on the left hand side, scroll down to the bottom, check the box for the year you want to see, and uncheck the box for "Air Photography (CIR) 2002." Then click the "Redraw the Map" button and the map will then update with whatever version was chosen. Some of the areas have better photos than others, but overall its a fun tool to play with.

Here's an image of the website, with the area surrounding Vander Veer selected, in 1930. You can see that there was still plenty of farmland south of Duck Creek in those days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where in the QC is this? #25

It feels like I just did one of these, but it turns out #24 was all the way back in July. This one's a little bit different.
(Click on image to enlarge it)

Monday, October 12, 2009

27 Homes not quite on death row

A few years ago I did a post titled "8 houses on death row," with a list of the 8 homes that the city was forced to hire a contractor to demolish.

This year I'm posting the list, which can also be found here on the city website, of 27 homes that aren't quite slated to be demolished yet. The city published this list, with the following statement:
The following properties are being proposed to be demolished as part of a code enforcement effort by the City of Davenport. The goal of this procedure is to make the public aware of buildings that are being considered for demolition by the City of Davenport in an effort to locate interested investors that are willing to rehab the buildings and return them to code compliant condition and as active, tax producing properties.
As anyone who has seen some of the homes sitting vacant around Davenport knows, it takes quite a bit to get on the demo list. Only 3 of the homes are North of Locust, although that's a similar ratio to the 1 in 8 that were NoLo in my 2006 list. The city link also includes additional info, such as who owns each of the properties, where they live, and how long ago they were last inspected.

And here's the list:

1320 W 3rd St
1412 W 3rd St
421 W 6th St
502 E 7th St
912 W 8th St
314 E 9th St
1012 W 9th St
714 W 13th St (Owned by Scott County??)
1530 W 13th St
533 W 14th St
1408 Christie St
1411 College Av
2416 Davie St
1017 Gaines St
1019 Gaines St
1015 Grand Av
2126 Iowa St
2326 Jackson Av
1609 Judson Av
1222 Leclaire St
1223 E Locust St
1202 S Nevada Av
517 Ripley St
705 Spruce Ct
1223 Ripley St
222 Washington St
1005 Western Av

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

3rd Ward Primary + Megafault trailer

In honor of the 3rd Ward Primary today, I've posted a video from the upcoming TV movie Megafault, which was filmed around here. It will be airing on SyFy this Saturday night at 8pm, and definitely includes some local landmarks. In a scene that Keith Meyer or Mark Nelson could only dream about, the trailer shows downtown Davenport crumbling and collapsing during an earthquake.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A few videos about roundabouts

Since there's a possibility of some roundabouts coming to Davenport in the future, and some people talking about what they are and aren't, I thought I'd post a few videos from the Washington State DOT that do a pretty good job of explaining how they work, why they work, and how to use them. The only example of a roundabout in the QC area that I know of is in Bettendorf at the intersection of Middle Road and 53rd Avenue, seen in the image above. Two of the possible places suggested at the meeting last week in Davenport were the intersections of 46th and Eastern, and 46th and Jersey Ridge. To me, the two biggest pluses of roundabouts are that most people never have to come to a complete stop when going through them, and the hugely decreased chance of a head on or T-bone crash.

Here are a few videos that I think do an excellent job of explaining these intersections (that most Midwesterners are unfamiliar with) in a total of only 5 minutes.

Part one is called "Roundabouts - What they are, and what they aren't"

Part 2 is called "Roundabouts - How do I drive a roundabout?"

And here are links to the last 3 parts:

Part 3: Pedestrians and cyclists

Part 4: Safety benefits

Part 5: What does this mean for me?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Des Moines image

I'm still working on a few posts, but lately I haven't had a lot of time. For now, here's a picture of the State Capitol of Iowa in Des Moines. It was taken from one of the new residential buildings that we toured a couple weeks ago. The foreground view leaves something to be desired, but you can't beat the Capitol view.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A few little things

Today is the Davenport Public Library's annual book sale at the Main library. It goes until 3pm, and the last hour is $1 per bag of books. Even hardcover. This sale is a yearly event for me, so I managed to spend a few bucks down there this morning. Free parking in the library lot or on the street, and super cheap used books. Can't beat it. I also look forward to having a second Friends Bookstore in the Eastern branch when it opens next year.

After the book sale I stopped down at the Farmer's Market this morning to pick up a tomato, and expected the crowds to be sparse because of the overcast, drizzly weather. Nope, it was packed as always. Every time I visit the market, (especially the indoor portion of it) I think about how those consultants and all the folks who love to hate downtown said that Davenport could never support an indoor, year-round farmer's market. We certainly proved them wrong.

Tonight at 8PM on SyFy, (formerly SciFi channel) the newest version of Children of the Corn will premiere. This was filmed in and around the Iowa Quad Cities, so even though its not really my kind of movie, I'll be watching for local landmarks. Now if they just return the luxury car they bought with our tax credits, we'll really be set. In other movie news, Sugar came out earlier this month on DVD and Blu-Ray. I got a copy because its a great movie regardless of location, but was disappointed that the bonus features don't include a little more info about our beautiful stadium. Its possible the filmmakers had no interest in a little plug for the QC, but I hope someone at least asked.

Enjoy the weekend folks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Davenport In Motion

I attended the presentation last night at the Figge about Davenport's transportation master plan. There wasn't a ton of specifics because of how early in the plan they are, but basically Davenport In Motion, as its being called, is a plan for the entire city's transportation (car, bus, bike, on foot, or any other method) and downtown's parking needs. The plan is being done by Nelson\Nygaard along with Jeff Speck, a prominent urban planner.

Check out the QCTimes article here, as it covers a lot of what was said at the presentation. Also, the website for Davenport in Motion can be found here, on the City of Davenport website.

Some of the main topics were the lack of connected streets north of Kimberly, whether all of our one-ways need to stay one-ways, whether some of our streets are too wide for the amount of traffic that actually uses them, and what should be done about downtown parking. While the consultants don't believe that all downtown street parking should be free, they feel that only the most central and popular spaces should be metered, with some on the outskirts being free. As has been mentioned in a number of media outlets, the city will be doing a trial run over the next year. I'm not sure exactly when this will start, but all the meters will be bagged, and most of the downtown core will still be limited to 2 hour parking. I'm not sure if the lot off of Locust is included in this, since its kind of an exception up there.

A lot of the talk about one ways focused on Brady and Harrison, and 3rd and 4th. Basically the consultants recommend turning them all back into 2 way streets, as the current philosophy says that they're better for pedestrian transportation, businesses, and ease of use. It was pointed out that some of the dissatisfaction with parking downtown is caused by the fact that "circling a block" to get a parking space can sometimes mean circling 3 or 4 blocks because of the one-ways. I hadn't really thought about it before, but it does take a lot of extra time for example, to go up to 4th and over to Main instead of just circling one block. Supposedly changing 3rd and 4th back to two-way traffic wouldn't be overly expensive, and the early talk seemed to be that Brady and Harrison could be 2-way at least as far north as Locust. All of this is in the pretty early stages, and I don't think any of the one-way changes would be happening in 2009, although I could be wrong. There was a lot of info packed into the hour presentation, but I'll stop there and suggest looking through the materials available on the website for more information. Also, if there are questions I can do my best to answer them, in between dodging insane personal attacks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Des Moines Trip Open Thread

Yesterday I headed over to our capital city for a get together with some folks from AbsoluteDSM. We were able to tour 4 mixed use projects in their East Village area. One of them in particular, e300, I'm particularly jealous of, but that's a topic for another post.

Consider this one an open thread. Its amazing how little discussion of the upcoming elections there has been around here. Primary predictions for the 3rd ward? Incumbent? Libertarian tea enthusiast? West end tree enthusiast?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hilltop Campus Village meeting thoughts

Tuesday night was a training session for people interested in helping with the Hilltop area and its inclusion as an Iowa Main Street Urban Neighborhood District. I figured I'd post some of my thoughts on the meeting, but with the caveat that these are my opinions only, and I don't speak for any groups or other people. The idea is to help the Hilltop area (roughly the area from Ripley to Perry, and 5th to Lombard) succeed by creating a campustown type of feel to connect the Palmer and St. Ambrose campuses. This would be done both by using and enhancing what is already there, and hopefully drawing in new development. This area has many strong institutions, from the 2 colleges to the 3 public schools and several churches. There are also a number of existing businesses, United Neighbors, Cumulus radio stations, and KWQC TV station within this area. While the city's proposal to reconfigure Brady and Harrison streets for better pedestrian access has a role in this Campus Village plan, I wouldn't say they are dependent on each other.

There have been several meetings already, but this was the first one I was able to attend. The meeting was led by Terry Poe Buschkamp, and she ran through a general review of what the Main Street Iowa folks expect from each of the Main Street communities. There will be 4 committees, which are Business Improvement, Design, Organization, and Promotion. At this point the main group, which was around 50 people, split into groups by these 4 interests. While I enjoy design and the physical side of redevelopment, I chose to go with the Promotion group. I've seen over the years that letting people know about things (sports teams, events, amenities, businesses) is just as important as the things themselves.

For whatever reason, the Promotion group was the smallest of the 4, with only half a dozen or so of us in there, including representatives from Palmer, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre, QC First, and St. Paul Lutheran Church. Scott Tunnicliff, the executive director of the Campus Village project and Matt Flynn, who was somewhat representing the City of Davenport also stopped in occasionally. Our little group's training was led by Jim Miller, who is involved in the Main Street Iowa program, and works for Valley Junction's downtown area in West Des Moines. There was a lot of brainstorming and discussing of what the area already has, how its already thought of, what it could be someday, and how best to get it there. One of the main ideas is to have some sort of festival or event in the Hilltop area to get people there to see what it has to offer. There is a feeling that currently Hilltop is somewhere many people drive THROUGH coming to or from downtown, rather than drive TO. There was definitely a lot of enthusiasm from all sides about improving this area, and really it is in all of Davenport's interests to have Hilltop return to a vibrant area. There's certainly room for more people to get involved, and if interested I would suggest contacting Scott Tunnicliff. The whole concept is still in its early stages, so I look forward to being able to talk about further progress as it happens.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hilltop Campus Village meeting tonight

Update - Thursday Morning: I plan to write up some of my thoughts about the meeting later today or tonight. Attendance was good, so that's a good sign for the enthusiasm level.

Hilltop advocates to learn Main Street approach -QCTimes

This meeting is tonight, from 6-9PM at the former Masonic Temple, former Lyceum Hall, now called Vickie Anne Palmer Hall. According to the article:

[Scott] Tunnicliff said participants will learn about the four principles of Main Street programs: organization, promotion, design and business improvement. Committees will be organized around each idea.

The effort already has drawn 30 to 50 people to earlier planning sessions. But he hopes that even more residents, business owners, students and other stakeholders will join the project.

I'm hoping to attend, and hopefully anyone interested in this important neighborhood and gateway to downtown can attend also. Hopefully we can see some real action in the near future on this corridor.

Monday, September 14, 2009

QC Symphony Riverfront Pops Concert

Working my way through the busy weekend, here are a few images and a movie from this year's Riverfront Pops Concert in LeClaire Park. As much as I like Modern Woodmen Park, and baseball, it was great to be back where the Pops concert belongs. Steve Lippia performing Sinatra songs worked well, and the weather and crowd were great.

My Way (Listen closely, and you can hear a random guy sitting near me trying to sing along.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boating at Vander Veer Lagoon

Here are a couple of images from yesterday's Fall Festival at Vander Veer Park in Davenport. The Mississippi Bend Model Boaters had a bunch of model and remote control boats displayed both in and out of the water. I've never made it over to Middle Park Lagoon to see these guys, but I might have to check it out now. It looks like it could be an expensive hobby though.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shooting at Genesis East

I'm not sure why none of this has hit the news yet, but there was definitely some excitement in the QC early this morning.

A person was shot somewhere on or near the campus of Genesis East, and the suspects left in a car. They were spotted almost immediately by police on East Rusholme and the chase was on. At this point I don't believe the officers weren't sure if this was a shooting, because they seemed to be wavering on breaking off the chase. A supervisor advised them to continue until at they could find out for sure what was going on, and its a good thing for all of our safety that they kept on the chase. At some point during the chase they got more information about what had taken place at the hospital, and chose to continue the pursuit.

The car ended up coming south on Farnam to Locust, and east on Locust. Up until this point the speeds had been relatively low, but once on Locust Street the speeds hit 80 or 90 miles per hour. They headed into the mythical land of no crime, and then got on I-74 towards Illinois. At one point on 74 the speeds hit triple digits. However, this was around 4am, so it was far from rush hour. The suspect vehicle got off at Avenue of the Cities, I believe heading west, but I'm not sure on that part. At this point Moline officers had joined in as well. The car eventually stopped near the border of Rock Island and Moline, and it sounds like everyone inside was apprehended. So good job to the boys in blue for getting some attempted murders off the street. Unfortunately the only police chases that seem to make the news are the ones that go badly. I'd like to think that more successful pursuits would show the high-ups that there are benefits to not allowing suspects to escape for fear of chase-related accidents.

Anyway, good police work by DPD and Moline PD. Its appreciated.

Update at 11:45AM QCOnline has the story now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Last Busy Weekend of the Summer

Even though Labor Day is the traditional end of summer, this weekend sure has a ton of festivals and events going on. I'm going to try and make it to as many of these events as possible, and I know there are more smaller things going on like church parish festivals and of course the Farmer's Market. Click on the links for more info.

QC Symphony Riverfront Pops Concert - Saturday, Gates open at 3PM

Vander Veer Fall Festival Saturday - Saturday, 10AM-7PM

Beaux Arts Fair - Saturday, 10AM-5PM; Sunday, 12PM-5PM

Backwater Gamblers (Last show of the season) - Sunday, 6PM

Eastern Avenue Branch Library beam signing - Saturday, 12PM-2PM

Viva Quad Cities - Tonight (Friday) 5-11PM; Saturday, 3-11PM

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Credit Island Recreational Bridge

Check out this link on the City of Davenport website. It has some renderings, maps, and a video of what the new bike/pedestrian bridge from Credit Island to South Concord will look like.

This bridge will be part of the Mississippi River Trail, which stretches from Minneapolis to New Orleans, and also allow for the Duck Creek and Mississippi River trails in Davenport to eventually be linked at both ends. When that loop is finally completed I think it would be great to see a second Ride the River-style family bike ride put on annually.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Maps, Eagles, Spraygrounds, etc
Wednesday Assortment

A new feature has recently been added to the city website. Check out this page for an Interactive GIS map of Davenport. GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems, which seems like a new high tech way of saying of "cartography with computers." This oversimplifies it of course, as GIS has allowed Davenport to do many useful things, such as create detailed water level maps for use during river floods. On Davenport's public version of GIS, you can look up addresses or Parcel IDs of any parcel in the city, which can then link you to the county assessor page. Its a really quick way of finding out who owns what where. There are dozens more features, such as overlaying ward maps, zip code maps, garbage pickup days, parks, creek, flood plain info, etc. If you zoom in far enough, a checkbox becomes available on the left to view the map as an aerial photo taken in 2005. Basically the whole thing is a more detailed, more informational version of Google Maps.

Bettendorf to raze former Eagle Country Market building -QCTimes

I've always wondered why everything in Davenport is a controversy, yet things happen in other communities around here that would make Davenporters' heads explode, and create no drama. Bettendorf seems to have a history of buying up property and then losing money on it that Davenport can't match. In this case, according to the article, Bettendorf paid $1.7 million for what ended up being an eyesore for almost a decade. Now they're about to pay to have it torn down. When Davenport sold its land at 53rd and Eastern for a profit, people still complained.

Davenport's riverfront spray park could be on shaky political ground

As the article says, it must be election time again. In the past, some of the scapegoats used to drum up support have been scary dogs, sex offenders, and more recently, halfway houses. The newest trendy thing to oppose is the long-planned, long-budgeted sprayground at Centennial Park. Who cares if hundreds of people helped plan this riverfront park. Right now, especially in some wards, its easier to be against this than for it. I'd suspect it has at least 5 votes plus the Mayor, so hopefully its safe. Next week on Alderman Ambrose's agenda: an ordinance banning "gangbangers," and another affirming apple pie as the official dessert of Davenport.

Also, as today's editorial mentions, the Veteran's Memorial Parkway is open. I drove down this last Monday before I had even heard it was open, and its definitely nice. This is a new 4 lane street from Brady Street near Thunder Bay Grille over to Eastern Avenue near Prairie Heights. Right now its pretty empty and looks like the city's best teenage drag racing strip, but I'm sure over the next decade this will become quite a growth area. I'll try to get some pictures this week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

McKesson Lofts Images

The grand opening and open house of the McKesson Lofts in downtown Rock Island was last night. Here's the QCTimes article about it, and here are some images I managed to get while I was there.

Here's the exterior of the renovated building. The balconies were added, and some of the environmentally friendly features include geothermal heating/cooling, and a green roof. The 2nd and 3rd floors are condos, half of which are already spoken for.

Good views all around. The river-facing units have a great view of Davenport (it'd be better without the casino there) and the future location of Armory Park, while some of the other units face over towards the District and all that urban activity.

This is one of the more unique features, in my opinion. The common areas on each floor have cutouts in the floor to allow light from the skylights above to make it all the way down to the main floor.

A lot of open floor plans, studio style bedrooms, and laminate flooring. Like a lot of these converted buildings, very few condos' floor plans are alike.

The lobby on the 1st floor. Some of this floor is unfinished space planned for commercial use. The stairwells and elevator are keyed to limit access to the residential floors, which is always nice. As fast as this building is filling up, maybe developers will consider some condos in downtown Davenport? Anybody?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A bit of election stuff

This Thursday is the filing deadline for the 2009 City Election. If anyone wants to have a chance at enduring constant scorn from a vocal minority of the public for every decision they make, there's still time.

Here are the numbers of signatures required on petitions to run for each ward and Mayor.

Mayor 338
At-Large 287
1st Ward 41
2nd Ward 36
3rd Ward 20
4th Ward 49
5th Ward 30
6th Ward 65
7th Ward 49
8th Ward 45

A few years ago the 3rd ward only required 13, so obviously voter turnout is increasing downtown.

There's a new blog following this election, which can be found at I've added it to the links over on the right. So far it seems very fair-handed, possibly because it also seems very concise in its posts, unlike this blog and its occasional novel-length posts.

In the At-Large race, it looks like this Jason Gordon will be the mainstream candidate to beat, although Ortiz and his illegal signs will be giving him a run for it. If Keith Meyer is really running for At-Large, I think he'll have quite an uphill battle. Niky showed the popularity (or lack-thereof) of wrench-in-the-gears-style candidates over the city as a whole.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Backwater Gamblers Images

While the British Car Show is one of the QC's hidden treasures, I would say the biggest thing we have that not enough people know about is the Backwater Gamblers waterski team. I grew up going over to their shows every year, but I had missed the last 2 or 3 years' shows. Fortunately I was able to make it over to see last night's show. They were great as always. This team took 5th in the Show Ski nationals, yet there were locals in the crowd that had only recently heard about them. There is still time to make it over there this season, as they have 7 shows left. They are every Wednesday and Sunday night at 6:30 PM. Their website has directions to their area on the Rock River in Rock Island. Best of all, admission is free, although they do pass the bucket for donations during intermission. I could easily see paying $10 per person to see this show and feeling it was well worth it. Here are some images from last night's show:

Towboats 1 and 2 bringing a bunch of skiers directly towards the beach.

It was tough to get good shots of the high speed jumps off of the ramp in the fading light, but here's one of a skier going underneath 2 jumpers.

Four 3-tier pyramids get pulled off the dock already on each others shoulders.

A large line of skiers gets pulled off the dock, leaving only one behind. This takes a lot of boat power, which is why they have two 225 horsepower outboards on each of the main boats.

The show always finishes with their most impressive pyramid. In this case, a triple-wide 4-tier pyramid that required 2 boats to pull everyone off the dock.