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|Smart Riverfront Redevelopment|
|Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries|
|Written by No Author|
|Tuesday, 15 February 2005 18:00|
The Mississippi riverfront is Davenport’s number-one marketable asset - its front lawn, its Central Park, its Grand Canyon view. Any new or enhanced commercial use of the downtown riverfront requires careful long-range planning that includes comprehensive citizen involvement.
Recently, the Isle of Capri proposed building a five-story parking ramp and 10-story hotel on the city-owned Davenport riverfront, just downstream of Dam 15. The proposal promises some higher revenue to the community assuming an increase in gambling.
However, the project as currently structured would result in the loss of a significant amount of riverfront view for years to come. For this reason alone, the City should not hastily enter into an agreement with Isle of Capri, or any other interests, before obtaining structured public input as part of a thorough planning process.
The area suggested for the hotel/parking structure is a key location next to the roller dam. The view across the dam to Arsenal Island and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ historic Clock Tower is a signature view for downtown workers and residents. It also has become a favorite location to view bald eagles feeding in the open water below the dam. Moreover, what will happen to the view of the roller dam and riverfront from the nearly finished sky bridge?
Recently, the cities of Rock Island and Davenport hired a professional planning firm to obtain public input and develop an overall, long-term plan for our communities’ riverfronts. This River Vision plan did not include the proposal now being advocated by the gambling interests.
Additional analysis of the area being considered for the hotel/parking lot should be undertaken by the City of Davenport with the help of similar professional planners. If our riverfront is to remain a cherished public asset for future generations, such community-wide planning should focus on conservative stewardship, not risky business projects for the highest - or only - bidder.
Our downtown north of River Drive has ample space for future commercial growth. Why add costly infrastructure improvements and sacrifice prime city riverfront property for construction of a hotel/parking ramp? Consider what downtown Chicago would be like if such developments had been permitted on its lakefront.
Davenport’s emergence as a top-tier Midwestern community in which to live does not depend on the increased presence of riverboat gambling on our downtown riverfront. Many alternatives - which do not rely on disfiguring our number-one asset - exist for the expansion of gambling in Davenport.
Moving forward with the Isle of Capri’s current proposal devalues Davenport’s most marketable asset and will arguably harm, rather than benefit, recent public and private investments made in our downtown.
The city and the casino should undertake a thorough evaluation of alternative sites for gambling expansion in Davenport. And the entire community should be involved in evaluating and deciding the future of this prime public view of the Mississippi River.
SmartRiverfront.com Planning Committee:
R. Josef Hoffmann, M.D.
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