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.