Monday, July 26, 2010

Flood 2010 Saturday PM - Monday AM

Alternate title: We got 99 problems but the Bix ain't one.

I went out both Saturday night and this morning to take some pictures of the flood preparations. They seem to be going pretty well, and the river seems to be rising a little slower than projected, so hopefully we can come out of this one relatively unscathed. Here are a whole bunch of images from both Saturday night and this morning.
Saturday night, while thousands partied downtown at the Bix Street Fest, Public Works was busy building the usual temporary berm. This year it appears it was made easier by the new concrete median planters.

Preparations near Bechtel Park and Iowa Street.

Berm work on Saturday night, and this morning.

LeClaire Park on Saturday night, and this morning.

Union Station, looking like a fort with its surrounding berm.

Kraft had their wall across Rockingham ready Saturday night, and Rock Island had already begun installing their new removable gates in Schwiebert Park.

This area of Schwiebert Park is north of the floodwall and designed to flood, which its starting to do.

Even more gates being installed at Schwiebert Park. They're also in the midst of fixing some drainage issues around the sprayground, unrelated to the flood.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bix 2010 Images

So, it wasn't exactly one of our greatest Bix days. Between the weather issues last night, such as the smashed truck seen on the right, the terrible death of the Galesburg coach, or the general soaking of 15,000 runners and however many tens of thousands of spectators, things could have gone better. Now we have imminent flooding to deal with, which we'll survive as we generally do. As always, things could have been worse. Despite the rain, thousands of people got together for a good time in Davenport. Next year lets hope for blue skies to show off the renovated Blackhawk and Forrest Block buildings.

It looks like most of the registered runners and walkers could not be deterred by a little rain.

The men's winner, Ryan Hall, and the women's winner, Lisa Koll, each heading down 3rd Street towards the finish line.

Some of the earlier finishers. While there were fewer spectators downtown than a dry Bix, I was impressed with how many people came out to support the runners.

This is an angle you don't see too much, which is the Quick Bix runners coming down Perry Street to an early finish. I've done the 2 mile version a couple times, and its always pretty deserted spectator-wise once you turn off of the main route. It does ensure that you get to the post-race party while the good snacks are still available though, and you don't get that "Why do I do this?" feeling that you do coming back on Kirkwood...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Morning in July

I was out and about downtown this morning, and got a few photos. The Freight House Farmer's Market was packed even more than usual, but I've found there's not a great vantage point to take pictures of its success. The Florian Keen lot was full, the Freight House lot was full, people were parking under the Centennial Bridge, and the Community Health Care lot was almost full. Clearly someone needs to build some condos or market rate apartments in that area to cash in on that kind of amenity.

Anyway, here are the images:

This new Bix mural looks great.

The new mural at 4th and Pershing. This is on the southeast corner, across from last year's mural on the northwest corner.

Hotel Blackhawk progress. I believe the 3rd level of the new addition is going to be a pool.

Forrest Block Progress! Its so nice to be able to say that, and it will be great for Bix runners to finally see progress next weekend.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Davenport City Staff responds to Wisor's comments about 1125 Jersey Ridge

CPED has reviewed the email generated by the owner of 1125 Jersey Ridge Road, John Wisor, and offers this response.

Wisor: A historical map of Davenport produced by the HPC does not show the house in a historical neighborhood. It shows it outside the border of a historical neighborhood.

Staff: Maps of this property show the property both in and out of the McClellan Heights Historic District as well as the East Davenport Historic District. The survey maps prepared by City Historian Marlys Svendsen show the property out of the District. Later maps show the property in. Most recently, the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) shows the boundary matching the original survey boundaries drawn my Ms. Svendsen. In 2009, City Planner Ken Oestreich spoke with Ms. Svendsen and she indicated that is was likely a mistake why the property (as well as 1127 Jersey Ridge Road) were not included in either district. Map is attached.

The definitive measure of a property’s status is its listing on the National Register itself, not if it is shown on a locally produced map.

Wisor: The house was not on any historical register at the time of purchase.

Staff: According to the records of the State of Iowa Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), 1125 Jersey Ridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 1, 1984, as part of the McClellan Heights District designation. See attached.

Wisor: John Wisor did not request it be put on any such register.

Staff: True

Wisor: The HPC took it upon themselves, after a demo request was filed, to nominate the house for historical status.

Staff: The HPC followed the City Code outlined in Section 17.23.120 that requires consideration of landmarking property that is the subject of a demolition request. The HPC denied demolition (April 21, 2009), considered the landmarking and recommended approval (May 12, 2009), and the City Council, by not approving the demolition request, approved landmarking the property on June 24, 2009.

Wisor: The HPC basically took control of the property without any financial consideration.

Staff: The HPC did not take control of the property. The City Council approved landmarking the property, which requires HPC approval of exterior alterations (Certificate of Appropriateness) or demolition. The property owner has not provided any financial information regarding the demolition request. Only financial information has been obtained through public records.

Wisor: The HPC did not consider any financial restoration costs nor did they inspect the property.

Staff: No written estimates have been presented to the HPC and Commissioners have not inspected the property.

Wisor: The historical aspects of the house are disputable as is its architectural significance to the area.

Staff: The survey prepared by Marlys Svendsen, affirmed by SHPO, determined the property to be a “contributing” structure.

Wisor: The property was purchased with the intention of tearing it down and building new. The condition of the property at the time of purchase was uninhabitable with burst water pipes, rotted-out soffits, siding, and a leaking roof. The previous owners accepted an offer that was $40K less than they paid just three year prior.

Staff: Property records show the house bought by a previous owner for $145,000 on 5-22-07 and sold to Wisor Village, LLC for $105,000 on 8-9-07.

Wisor: The offer was to purchase "as is" because of the neglected, deteriorated condition of the house. John Wisor stated at the time of the first demo refusal that it was cost prohibitive to put any money into the house and he was not interested in restoring the house or converting it to rental property. John Wisor put the house up for sale after the first demo request was denied but never received any offers to purchase. An offer to purchase is a signed contract AND earnest money (very important) - not a verbal request to purchase.

Staff: Staff cannot verify these statements.

Wisor: The city Community Service Division ordered expensive repairs in order to maintain its "rental" status in April 2010.

Staff: A Notice and Order was mailed to the owner on April 23, 2010 and is attached. The cost of repair was not included in the report.

Wisor: There was a construction accident on June 3, 2010 which damaged the foundation.

Staff: The property sustained damage on June 3, 2010.

Wisor: There is no criminal investigation related to this incident and John Wisor nor his contractors have ever been contacted or interviewed by the police regarding this issue.

Staff: The afternoon of June 4, CPD patrol officers canvassed the area and took statements of potential witnesses to determine if any crimes had been committed and preserve recollections while they are still fresh. Wisor did speak to officers at the scene on June 4, 2010 and indicated the house was damaged due to a construction accident.

After the initial canvassing by patrol, it was referred for follow up within the DPD to the detective bureau. At this point potential, appropriate charges would have been considered and any necessary follow up interviews would have been conducted depending upon whether any potential, appropriate criminal charges existed. Hence, Wisor and the construction folk(s) have not been interviewed by detectives. Since any appropriate charges would be by civil municipal infraction at this point, the investigation has been turned over to CPED's zoning enforcement division for follow up. CPED Staff and the Legal Department are determining next steps at this time.

Wisor: A licensed structural engineer produced a report on June 4, 2010 stating that the house is structurally unsound, unsafe, and should be taken down.

Staff: Quoting from the last paragraph of the Engineering Report by Chris Townsend: “It is my professional opinion that the structural capacity of the foundation and the framing system has been compromised and the house is no longer satisfactory. It is also my professional opinion that reconstructing this structure is not economically feasible due to the extent of demolition and reconstruction that is necessary to realign the foundation and framing.” See attached.

Wisor: The new house was designed with the cooperation of city staff and meets all city design criteria created for the Village of East Davenport.

Staff: City staff did work with the owner to assist him in designing a house that meets the requirements in the RIDO, Residential Infill Design Overlay District. Staff recommended to the Design Review Committee (DRC) of the Plan and Zoning Commission the design (attached) be approved conditioned upon the demolition being allowed to proceed. The DRC tabled the request to approve the design until the demolition question was answered.

The HPC and DRC are independent of each other and it is staff’s opinion that the DRC can and should have taken action without waiting until the HPC had determined the demotion status.

Wisor: The spray painting of the house is meant to show how out-of-control the situation is and to trivialize a few neighbors attempts to sway public opinion. The costs of restoring the house are not feasible or practical.

Staff: Comments from the author, no City response.

Wisor: Realistic Solutions for the HPC:

Target worthwhile properties. Start by selecting a hand-full of significant properties which can be managed and hold fund raisers to raise money to maintain the properties. Saving properties requires real hard work. The old Fire House in the Village could be a good place to start and could be turned into a community meeting place for historic preservationists. Do not label properties "historic" without the consent on the owner. Keep an open mind when evaluating properties for the historic value of the property. Cooperation is required from the owner since the building materials required to repair the building will not suddenly drop from the sky and attach itself to a building. The Palmer historic house sat vacant for 13 years without any repair or materials dropping from the sky.

Staff: Comments from the author, no City response.

Prepared by:

Matthew G. Flynn, AICP

Senior Planning Manager/Staff Liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission

City of Davenport


1125 Jersey Ridge Attachments -Various attachments, including historic district maps, photos of damage

Staff report with attachments -The Residential Infill Design Staff comments on the potential new structure

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eastern Branch Library Grand Opening Images

Yesterday morning was the grand opening of the Eastern Avenue branch of the Davenport Public Library. It felt a lot like the West side's Fairmount Street branch grand opening from 4 and a half years ago, including huge crowds that greatly exceeded the local parking capacity. If there's one place I don't mind parking problems, its at a packed grand opening of a long-awaited public library.

Not only was the library's parking lot full, but all of the streets of Prairie Heights were full, and people were parking blocks away on the shoulder of Eastern. Its no wonder the library referendum passed back in 2003.

The entire library bears a lot of similarity to the Fairmount Street branch, with some updates, including the LEED certification, and relocated cafe/bookstore.

This is the fancy new automated book sorter. Its supposed to free up librarian time for more useful and human-requiring tasks.

I didn't take too many pictures of the exterior yesterday, but I'll get back out there soon and get an assortment of angles of the building.

Its great to have a branch back on the east side, and hopefully this new library will help the continuing build-out of Prairie Heights. Its a beautiful facility that the city should be proud of.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 3rd Images

I'm trying to get back into blogging again, and it helps to have summer event pictures to post. I should have some images from last weekend's air show posted in the next few days, along with a rant-type post about the things that have made me mad enough to get back into blogging.

For today, here are some images from July 3rd in the QC.

Most of these are from yesterday's grand opening of Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island, which replaces the former site of Casino Rock Island, and the site of the now-demolished Rock Island Armory. While I feel that Davenport's riverfront as a whole is better and much bigger, I will say that Rock Island's first real downtown riverfront park is densely packed with great features. There's more neat stuff per square foot than probably any park in the QC.As soon as the ribbon was cut, the entire park was flooded with people.

The Midwest's first "electronic playground" which has stuff like buttons that light up different colors so kids can play a version of capture the flag by trying to light up all the other team's buttons while defending theirs, and a bunch more games that nobody could figure out. I wish they had this kind of stuff when I was a kid, and I'm especially glad to see cities putting real playgrounds in again instead of some of the junk they built in the 90's.

Rock Island has realized that it makes no sense to block off all view of the river 100% of the time when it only floods about 1% of the time. Removable gates can be dropped into place between the pillars to create a flood wall only when needed.

There were of course, a lot of speeches. The riverfront promenade offers views that haven't been seen by anyone in all the decades that the armory occupied the space. Now if only we could get the casino off OUR riverfront...

Speaking of Davenport's riverfront, we also attended Red, White and Boom, which was hugely popular due to the good marketing, beautiful evening, and Saturday night timing. I'm sure this blew through all records that the Blues Fest had ever set before, and I'd bet that they made up all the money they lost on admission fees in concession sales. The lines were 20-30 minutes long, so clearly they needed even more vendors (and bathrooms).

The fireworks were great too, but my camera doesn't do them justice whatsoever, so you'll have to use your imagination. Or Flickr. Also, thanks to all loyal QCI-readers that still check on this blog despite its long hiatus.