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.


At 9/02/2009 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should we expect anything else from the 4th ward alderman? He is so predictable at this stuff. In national politics, it's called the "October surprise." In Davenport, it's Ambrose "September Special."

What a joke. How can ANYONE no see though his predictable politics.

I was hoping since he is unopposed that he would give it a rest this year. Nope, not Ray!

At 9/02/2009 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care what he tries. I still will vote for the write in candidate I always vote for when he is unopposed...."anybody but Ray"

At 9/02/2009 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

qcimag remindsmeofbublegumstuckundera chair.

At 9/02/2009 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fantastic to see the public GIS come online - it's been a long time coming. This is also proof that the County and City have been cooperating a lot more lately. They couldn't have produced this if they weren't.

As for the sprayground, the money has been budgeted a long time and it's been an uncontroversial component of the Centennial/RiverVision plan forever. It's ridiculous to try and pull the plug on it at the last second over political season heat.

At 9/03/2009 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see a problem with the sprayground. Maybe push it back for another year if money isn't there. It fits in with the other stuff in the area and can be used by almost everyone. With the skatepark and boat ramp the area is doing pretty good. A lot more than it used to be when it was only used for dumping snow and a carnival once a year.

6:10. You can do better than that with the name calling. Try the Daily Kos or Huffington Report for pointers.


At 9/03/2009 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K. you hate Ambrose and you hate your mother but its time for you to go in and take a bath iMAGE. You are beginning to stink up the place.

At 9/04/2009 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it is ok to name call others?


At 9/07/2009 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9/07/2009 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Would this be before or after he drops his law suit against the city?

At 9/07/2009 4:39 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

The funny thing is, I think Keith's lawsuit may be the less weird of the two candidates' lawsuits.

Hard to say, suing that you shouldn't be reprimanded for trying to stop a business from moving to Davenport IS pretty weird.

At 9/07/2009 11:39 PM, Blogger Alexander said...

"The funny thing is, I think Keith's lawsuit may be the less weird of the two candidates' lawsuits."

There is nothing weird or funny about my father's lawsuit. It is an eminent domain case. The city has not offered fair compensation because they are using a caliper-based compensation formula recognized as suitable for valuing shade or timber trees, but is inadequate for valuing fruit bearing trees. There are nearly 20fully mature trees of varying species on his lot.

My father researched this well over three years ago and has consulted with experts from Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan who have all stated that an objective valuation of his orchard falls far less than what he is asking.

I doubt you'd sell the property you own for less than 1/16th of it's value, which is about what was offered my father.

If you have further need for clarification, you should contact him. I serve as his internet contact and can gladly help you to get in touch with him if you find it difficult.

Alexander Vasquez

At 9/08/2009 7:39 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Ok, so why did the value of his 20 trees suddenly change from $460k to $170k? Also, why didn't he protest the property tax assessment, as it was clearly far too low. I would think that someone who wanted to run for office wouldn't want to pay less taxes than they rightfully owe. Something worth over $170,000 would certainly be taxed for more than $6 per year.

At 9/08/2009 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QCI seems pretty quiet aboutthe latest police chase.Must be because a young innocent woman was hurt.

At 9/08/2009 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The better question is when were the trees planted?

I would venture to guess it was around the time Mr. Vasquez realized that the mostly invaluable, unsuitable-for-building lot behind his home was in the future path of the sewer tunnel.

So he quickly planted some trees (if you look at the photo on the county assessors website you can see they are not grown, mature trees) with the sole intention of soaking the city for condemnation money.

At 9/08/2009 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ok, so why did the value of his 20 trees suddenly change from $460k to $170k? Also, why didn't he protest the property tax assessment, as it was clearly far too low."

Good points QCI. I was thinking the same thing.

At 9/08/2009 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points QCI, I guess I wonder why the city even counter offered a higher price to Mr. Vasquez. His "orchard" has maybe one tree that is even mature enough to bear fruit, And that looks to be an 100 year old apple tree. Give me a break!

At 9/08/2009 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of how correct either lawsuit might be, it simply shows a massive lack of good judgment to me that you'd want to run for public office while simultaneously suing the City.

People won't even pay attention to what your suing for. You'll just be "the guy that's running in my ward who's suing the City." Right off the bat, you've got a serious strike against you. I can't imagine "currently suing the City" is a bullet-point people are happy to see when they glance at your candidate bio.

At 9/08/2009 10:01 PM, Blogger Alexander said...

I see there seem to be several things to clear up.

First of all, the trees were planted starting in the 1992-1993 timeframe--about the time I left home to go to college.
Trees were planted regularly until 1997. This means that the "youngest" of the mature trees is 12 years old and the oldest approaching 17. I don't remember the exact number of trees, I think it's 17 mature and 5 more recently planted, but don't hold me to it (I do know it's substantially more than 1, as another poster claimed). They are pruned and kept free of pests. Everyone in the family and several of the neighbors regularly receive a great deal of fresh and preserved fruits and vegetables year-round from it. My children are particularly fond of the apple butter my mother makes for them to put in their oatmeal on winter mornings.

This "problem" as I suppose it is better termed has been known to the city since 2004-5. They have known that the orchard was "in their way" and that my father wished to resolve the matter quickly and fairly. When he found out that his land would essentially be sterilized (nothing permitted or physically able to grow on it due to easements and substandard replacement topsoil) he began seeking options from the city and continually heard nothing. That process has since dragged on to this spring, when the issue finally came to a head.

FYI: fruit trees are valued based on average yield per bushel per tree, at wholesale price averaged for 5 years, over the productive life of the tree; I do not know if inflationary costs are considered but I would think not. This is the calculation used for eminent domain cases and insurance loss cases nationwide involving fruit trees or orchards. This is also where the initial $460k pricing came from: the trees can reasonably produce fruit for another 50 years; my father is 55, and 50 years from now would be quite old, but my son and I are not, and would have assumed the production when he was not able to any longer. This is why the time calculation was taken out to the full life of the trees as total losses since they cannot be replanted at the site and would no longer yield anything. You may not like it, and the city of Davenport certainly did not as I am sure most of the commenters here know, but it is a nationally accepted standard. Ask any orchard or their insurance companies. As for the lower settlement price, only his attorney can address that issue and any speculation on my part would be irresponsible.

Nor can I offer any reason why the assessor never tried to re-evaluate his land for taxing purposes. Again, the city has known about this property for almost five years, and had to know it would be an eminent domain/condemnation case as the other local properties were. It is either negligence or ignorance on the part of the city that "fair valuation" was never applied to the land, and that is not my father's issue. The photo of the orchard on the assessor's website does not show the entire property and is a poor quality representation of what is really there.

As for how voters will receive news of his lawsuit--I'd have to say that only the election will show what they are thinking. I can tell you that my father is not out to "soak" anyone, and would gladly prefer that tunnel to have been placed elsewhere. Whether or not you believe me is up to you.

I hope this (along with my previous post) clears up, for the reader visiting this site with an open mind, the issue regarding my father. I've tried to explain in an objective manner what I know about this issue.

Again, if anyone needs more information, I would be happy to place you in contact with my father.

Alexander Vasquez

At 9/09/2009 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the land be appraised by an independent appraiser? I'd say have an independent appraisal of the land that is needed and go from there. Now, it may be lower than a year ago, but that's the way things go.


At 9/09/2009 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

400,000 or 175,000 it's still a lot of apple butter for you're pancakes.

At 9/11/2009 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the crux of your case rest upon how many bushels you can get a year. It seems like you'd have to be harvesting A LOT of fruit to reach those numbers, even over a 50 year period.


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