A former Davenport aldermen and unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 2005 was tapped Wednesday to serve as a new director for efforts to redevelop the city’s riverfront.

Steve Ahrens, former alderman at large, will be paid $75,000 with no benefits under a one-year contract as a private consultant. His duties will include fundraising, grant writing, lobbying, assistance with projects, public education and public relations.

“It blends my background with my passion,” Ahrens said of the new job. “It combines my development experience with my great love for this community and its greatest asset, the river. When I made my concession speech, I said I planned to stay involved. I look forward to working with and helping to develop the riverfront plan.”

Ahrens currently works as director of alumni and parent relations at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he has been employed since 1999. He will start his new job Sept. 5.

Davenport is embarking on a $100 million redevelopment of its riverfront under a program called River Vision approved by aldermen in 2004. Work has already begun in Centennial Park where a skate park is under construction and other improvements are in the works.

Last year, aldermen voted to increase the authority and funding for the levee commission so it can pursue development of larger, more costly projects. The move came after the panel had become so powerless that former Mayor Charlie Brooke, now 6th Ward alderman, said it should be abolished.

“We chose (Ahrens) because he brings a dynamic personality to the position,” said Kelli Grubbs of the commission after the unanimous vote. “He was also involved at the beginning (with River Vision) and he has a full understanding of how the levee commission works and how it interacts with the City Council.”

His past service to the city as an alderman also played a role in his selection, said Byrd Krumbholz, also of the commission. “He was the most qualified,” Krumbholz said.

There were eight candidates for the job and three eventually were selected for interviews, said Charles Heston, a city project manager and city staff liaison to the levee commission. One of the interviewees dropped out, leaving two finalists. Other candidates were not identified.

Ahrens will have an office in City Hall, Heston said.

Tom Saul can be contacted at (563) 383-2453 or tsaul@qctimes.com.

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