Schwiebert Riverfront Park, located on the Mississippi Riverfront between 17th and 20th Streets, will open on Saturday, July 3, 2010 with a dedication at 4 p.m. The new park is being named for former mayor, Mark Schwiebert, for his tireless efforts to promote public use of the riverfront.
Grand Opening Activities
Many activities are planned for Grand Opening Day at the park including a formal park dedication ceremony, salute to the military, live music, children's entertainment, concessions, and fireworks.
The park dedication will begin at 4 p.m. with Mayor Dennis Pauley officiating. Special recognition will be given to Mark Schwiebert during a formal ribbon cutting ceremony on the Main Stage. Following the dedication, the park will be open for the first time.
Live music will start at 4:30 p.m. with family fun and patriotic tunes by the Barehanded Wolfchokers Associated Old-Time Dixieland Jazz Band. The Parks Department is also proud to feature live music act Horizon, a seven-piece contemporary music ensemble from the Navy Band Great Lakes, playing from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Main Stage. Horizon appeals to a wide variety of audiences with current Top 40 hits, classic rock hits, Motown, country, funk, and jazz.
Children's entertainment will begin at 4:30 p.m. and conclude at 7:30 p.m. A variety of inflatables, including a Bungee Run, Fun House, Laser Tag Maze, Adrenaline Rush, giant 22' slide, Tyrone T-Rex, and bounce houses will be available for a $5 wristband. In addition, Toto the Clown will entertain children with his juggling act from 6 to 6:30 pm, and strolling balloon art and juggling until 9 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., Mark Yeager the Magician will perform in the Upper Shelter. Food and beverage concessions will be available for purchase.
The grand opening theme is a salute to military, and special activities will take place throughout the event to honor the armed services including a booth with stationery that citizens can write notes of encouragement and thanks to soldiers. An honor guard will be presented along with a presentation of the national anthem during the event. Also, in order to honor that the park was the former site of the Armory, the National Guard will shoot a cannon to commemorate the opening ceremony.
The event will conclude with the Red, White & Boom fireworks display at dusk over the Mississippi River.
The public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Admission is free, and free parking is available in the City's parking ramp and parking lots, as well as on the street; Schwiebert Riverfront Park lots will be closed to the public.
Park Rental Information
Schwiebert Riverfront Park is the perfect place for a wedding, special event, or festival. Available for rental will be the Great Lawn, Main Stage, Triangular Lawn, or the entire park. Base hourly rates are available for weekdays or weekends. A basic wedding rental would start as little as $180. Large events are reasonable as well with a large community festival using the entire park starting at $500. Non profit rates are also available for rentals of the entire park for events or festivals. Some of the extra amenities that may be added to rentals include use of alcohol, tents, vendors, electricity, fencing, and live music. Contact the Park Office at 309.732.7275 for rental information. Private and special event rental applications are now being accepted for 2010 and 2011.
The downtown park offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River, and includes an open-air stage, playground areas, interactive fountain, observation shelter, waterfront promenade, bike trail, and beautifully landscaped grounds.
The eastern-most portion of the park consists of a 32-space parking lot, designed to accommodate every day park users. The parking lot can be accessed from 18th Street and 1st Avenue.
The Main Stage is the most prominent feature of the eastern part of the park. This 50' x 60' or 3,000 square foot performance area can be used for live music and theatre presentations. The stage includes basement storage areas for use by the Parks Department, along with a dock load-in area for performers. The stage has a sound system, with electrical systems in place for outside companies to bring in a professional sound system and lights if needed. A decorative clock featuring the City of Rock Island's logo will be located adjacent to the bike path and entry road, south of the Main Stage.
Immediately to the west of the stage is a patterned concrete flat surface, perfect for dancing. Further west is the Great Lawn, a beautiful grassy area surrounded by a lighted concrete walking path, making it a great place for blankets and lawn chairs while watching stage entertainment. The Great Lawn, Main Stage, corner planters, and maintenance building trace the silhouette of the former Rock Island Armory structure that was demolished to create the park.
North of the Great Lawn is the lower promenade, just three steps down, along the water's edge. This area provides park goers the opportunity to see the river up close, and provides some of the best views of the bridges, Arsenal Island, and our sister cities. During flooding, this area will be closed, as the removable flood wall will be constructed south of this area.
The main entrance to the park is off of 18th Street, in the middle of the park. In this area is the new park sign on the maintenance building, which also houses restroom facilities. The maintenance building will have a green roof with plantings, along with the storage building. To the east of the main path through the park are steps up to the Great Lawn. To the west is an interactive fountain and Triangle Lawn.
The fountain is at ground level with water sprays. During the warm months the fountain will operate and during the summer heat, the fountain will provide relief for park attendees, as they run through the water sprays. Year round park goers can enjoy the colored, patterned concrete.
To the north of the fountain area is an urban beach feature, a unique checkerboard patterned concrete beach that is at a level closer to the river. This area will also be closed during flooding and is designed for future development.
The western part of the park features the Triangle Lawn, two children's playground areas, two public art sculptures, and an observation shelter. Triangle Lawn is surrounded by trees and a lighted concrete walking path. To the northwest of the lawn are the playgrounds.
The park will feature digital playgrounds, the latest in playground equipment and the first installation in the Midwest. These playgrounds use technology to combine the excitement of digital gaming and the outdoor playground to get kids back outside and playing. The new playgrounds do not come with instructions; kids are encouraged to explore the system and discover all of its innovative features on their own or with their friends. The games and display are designed to be intuitive for the user, regardless of age. For example, in one playground feature called Space, teams compete to beat the clock in four dynamic games by hitting the LED flashing game nodes as fast as they can.
Walk up a few steps from the lawn to the north, through limestone boulders, to the observation shelter. This 20' x 30' shelter provides some of the best views of the river, and will be a fabulous location to watch the eagles, pelicans, and other wildlife. The Upper Shelter is equipped with picnic tables. To the northeast of the shelter, embedded in the concrete, is a compass that will assist out-of-town visitors who may not know the Mississippi River runs east to west in the Quad Cities.
Two public art sculptures are located in the western portion of the park. Journey II by Gary Lee Price, is a bronze sculpture of geese donated by the Thoms Family; this sculpture is located north of the playground. A sculpture to honor Lloyd Schoeneman will be placed at the southwest entry to the park; created by Stuart Morris this 22' sculpture is constructed of concrete, COR-TEN steel, and copper, and was created to honor the former Director of Public Art for Quad City Arts.
The western-most portion of the park has a shared-use parking lot. During weekday business hours, the parking lot will be used by Modern Woodmen of America. During weeknights, weekends, and holidays, the lot will be available for public use. The Great River Trail bike path will run along the southern edge of the park.
Honoring Mark Schwiebert
Mark Schwiebert served as mayor of Rock Island for twenty years. During his tenure, Mr. Schwiebert provided vision and leadership for the creation of this new riverfront park. Naming Schwiebert Riverfront Park recognizes Mr. Schwiebert's tireless efforts to guide the City of Rock Island in the decisions of what should be built on the riverfront, what it should look like, who it should serve, and how it will play a critical role in connecting The District to the Mississippi River. Naming this park for Mark Schwiebert is a fitting tribute for the countless hours he spent on this effort.
In 1996, the National Guard vacated the Armory for a new facility, and the City of Rock Island purchased the property in 1997. After much public debate, the City determined the highest and best use of the riverfront site was to demolish the Armory. After an impassioned, eloquent, and compelling presentation in March 2007 by then-Mayor Schwiebert, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency approved release of a covenant on the property that allowed the City to decide whether partial or complete demolition of the Armory was appropriate. IHPA granted this permission on May 10, 2007. Demolition of the Armory started on April 9, 2009.
The north façade of the Armory was part of the City's flood protection system. Due to the Armory's demolition, the City designed and installed a demountable flood protection wall to replace the existing structure. This new system will only be installed when directed to do so by the Corps of Engineers. It will provide an unencumbered view of the Mississippi River for the majority of the year. One of the features of the park design extends the normal height of the flood wall providing an additional 3' of flood protection without the demountable flood wall.
The Cities of Rock Island and Davenport, together with corporate and community groups, completed a bi-state public planning process in 2003 that resulted in the RiverVision Plan being unanimously adopted by both cities in 2004. This bi-state plan, the only one of its kind in the nation, was the basis for the U.S. Conference of Mayors awarding First Place honors to Davenport and Rock Island in the 2007 City Livability Awards, calling RiverVision "a far-reaching and broadly participatory waterfront plan that provides a coordinated framework for channeling development and configuring urban public open space to improve the quality of living in Davenport and Rock Island."
Creating a Riverfront Park
An important element of the RiverVision Plan in Rock Island was development of a public park on the Mississippi Riverfront. This one-fifth of a mile long park is adjacent to downtown. Much of the area was formerly used to support Jumer's Casino Rock Island riverboat gaming operation, which has now relocated to the City's southwest area, at the interchange of IL-92 and I-280.
The City started working with Schreiber /Anderson Associates Inc. to design concepts for the riverfront park in 2004. Sub-contractors for the design include : Stanley Consultants for structural engineering and permitting, Gere~Dismer Architects as architects, KJWW Engineering Consultants as electrical engineer, and WESCO Fountain, Inc. for fountain mechanicals.
The park has several project goals:
- Maximize use and flexibility of the green.
- Iconic space on river.
- Aesthetically pleasing, creative design.
- Water access - physical & visual.
- Public boat docks.
- Retain flood control.
- Capture river views.
- Meet park programming needs.
- Linkage to downtown and The District.
- Enhance downtown and riverfront redevelopment opportunity.
After reviewing many options, holding a series of meetings to gain public comment in 2005-06, and refining the plans, then-Mayor Schwiebert and the City Council selected a preferred concept to move forward with design and development in February 2008. Known at that time as the "Armory Silhouette" concept, it included a main stage area and great lawn that mimics the former Armory building's footprint.
Construction of Schwiebert Riverfront Park
This project has been divided into several construction phases. Williams / Valley Construction Management LLC was hired in June 2008 to assist the City in the overall construction management of the park. They handled all the bids and managed all the sub-contractors on the project.
The project is being paid for from the Downtown Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District funds, a source that can only be spent in the downtown area. Bonds have been issued for $11.1 million, plus TIF revenues of $1.25 million totaling $12.35 million. This covered design, engineering architectural, and construction costs of the park ($10.85 million) and a portion of the new sewer interceptor system ($1.5 million). TIF funds will be used to retire the bonds.