A nationally recognized planning firm will give a presentation Thursday designed to spark a community "conversation" about riverfront development in Davenport, as well as planning for the entire city. Principals from the California- and Massachusetts-based Hargreaves Associates will give the public presentation "Cities & Their Waterfronts: Reclamation & Revitalization" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, in the RiverCenter North. The firm will be giving the same presentation on Friday morning to a group of business leaders.

"What they're trying to do is begin a conversation," said Dee Bruemmer, assistant city administrator and director of public works.

The firm describes as one of its specialties "reclamation of neglected or abandoned sites for public occupation, often on waterfronts or in urban cores." Both, of course, apply to Davenport's nine-miles-plus of riverfront. The company's Web site says: "In all projects, the firm's work centers on planning and design that is [sic] specific to a site including its historical context, its natural processes, and the uses aspired to for that site." The firm typically tries to incorporate a site's history into its design, for instance ensuring that former industrial sites retain some of their history.

The Crissy Field restoration project in San Francisco, for example, incorporates the site's history as both an airfield and a wetland. It won a 2002 "merit award" for design from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The firm claims on its Web site that it "has as its core a single overriding concern: connection - connection between culture and the environment, connection between the land and its people."

Davenport Mayor Charlie Brooke and City Administrator Craig Malin saw a presentation by the firm at a conference in Texas and decided to bring it here. The presentation is especially timely because of recent developments along the city's riverfront. In January, the city council approved five-year leases with two industrial businesses - River/Gulf Grain and Builders Sand & Cement Company - without renewal clauses. Yet the city doesn't have an up-to-date re-development plan for the area; the existing plan was drafted in 1986 and has been largely ignored by city leaders. [See "Leaving the Levee," River Cities' Reader Issue 407, January 8-14, 2003.]

Furthermore, the city has undertaken a long-term effort with the goal of re-developing "brownfields" - inactive and possibly contaminated industrial sites - west of downtown.

Bruemmer said city leaders want to develop the city's riverfront "from LeClaire to Buffalo." The riverfront is the city's biggest asset, and while the River Renaissance development is already underway, Davenport has a lot of areas of the levee whose potential isn't being tapped. "How do we connect the assets we have ... with those we want to develop?" Breummer asked.

Although the Hargreaves presentation won't be a formal part of the city's comprehensive-planning process - one of the council's major goals for the 2002-3 session - Bruemmer expects it to be a springboard.

She also said the city hopes to inspire greater involvement in the planning process. "I see this as a whetting of the appetite for the community," she said, "to get a sense of what is possible."

Previous planning efforts, such as creating a plan for city-owned land at 53rd Street and Eastern Avenue, haven't generated public excitement or participation. "Hopefully, there will be something more than 20 people in the room" in this process, she said.

For more information about Hargreaves Associates, visit (http://www.hargreaves.com).

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