Another Historic Opportunity Print
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Wednesday, 21 March 2007 02:18

On Monday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the River Music Experience, the City of Davenport is hosting a "kickoff" meeting that will commence a "public process to design the expansion of LeClaire Park." The city's news release reads: "With the pending departure of the Isle of Capri's Rhythm City gaming operation away from the riverfront, a historic opportunity exists for the community to gather and collectively share ideas to transform the soon-to-be vacated property to uses everyone can enjoy and be proud of." The city claims that no design consultants will be used to "develop the conceptual plans" to expand LeClaire Park. The staff will introduce the project and provide background information and a schedule of upcoming input sessions. The city states: "The project's focus will be to use a community-based, grassroots approach to help the city take the next step in the evolution of its magnificent Mississippi riverfront."

Well this is certainly good news. The key phrase in the news release is "uses everyone can enjoy and be proud of." Matt Flynn and Darrin Nordahl, from the city's Design Center office, will be facilitating the meetings. Some may remember the giant "push pin" sculpture concept that Flynn and Nordahl floated as one idea for the waterfront in question. Their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking on that should be applauded. Let's hope that the new blood that Flynn and Nordahl represent is allowed to flourish throughout this process, and that it is not yet another tummy rub for the public, while the real deal is sealed behind closed doors.

This is worth saying because of the previous hundreds of volunteer hours and the dozens of ideas this community has contributed at dozens of similar public-process meetings held previously. Were we all not attempting to develop concepts for usage that "everyone can enjoy and be proud of" back then, too? Were the River Vision and waterfront workshops that hundreds attended not also defined as "historic opportunities" for the community to "collectively share ideas"?

Let's hope that this public process will at a minimum summarize the hard work that has gone before, culling the high points of the River Vision waterfront-usage process and listing for review the dozens of ideas that the public contributed during the waterfront workshop the city hosted in April 2005. If they are not acknowledged or incorporated into this new pass at the riverfront, then what assurances does the public have that what they are contributing is being listened to and retained by the city now?