A raft of accomplishments and beckoning possibilities for Davenport make it the right time to think about revisiting the nearly decade-old RiverVision plan, city leaders say.
They can check off a booming downtown housing market, the creation of Centennial Park and its popular amenities, River Drive medians and the city's acquisition of the River's Edge as parts of the 2004 plan that have been completed.
RiverVision was a combined effort of Davenport and Rock Island and other community partners to create a unified plan to tie together the two cities' riverfronts.
Those changes, and whether a $25 million office-restaurant project is the right match for the former Dock restaurant site and the long hoped-for departure of the casino boat from the riverfront suddenly being a real possibility, has brought RiverVision front and center again.
"I keep this on my desk because we refer to it all the time," Mayor Bill Gluba said recently, referring to the 60-page plan. "Since next year is 2014 and the 10th anniversary of the RiverVision plan, it is time to update it.
"Everybody's got ideas, but I don't want it to be cluttered up — helter skelter."
With accomplishments to show from the original plan, the fear is that RiverVision will get stale, so River Action executive director Kathy Wine supports a revision. Her organization was heavily involved in the first RiverVision process.
"Certainly, there can be changes made. You keep it fresh and use it," she said. "You have to be constantly planning, keep it relevant and have big goals."
A RiverVision coordinating committee, that meets quarterly and helped plan Red, White and Boom, met recently to open the discussion of where RiverVision should go. The original planning included Rock Island. The city built Schwiebert Riverfront Park, achieving the goal of a riverfront park, has increased downtown housing and has taken steps to build a transient boat dock and pier that also are included in the plan.
The plan included a similar dock and pier for Davenport, as well as a ferry running between the cities. RiverVision also included more grand ideas such as river fountains, lighting the roller dam and a large amphitheater in Crescent Park, west of Centennial Park. Instead, the city created Veterans Memorial Park in that place and is planning for additional features.
"It may not be what was originally envisioned, but it has a lot of what we did," said Mary Ellen Chamberlin, who also served on the RiverVision steering committee. "I think it is taking a look at priorities on both sides of the river.
"Moving the casino kind of puts the focus back on the downtown. I would say that for Davenport, it is taking a look at what takes place in two years when the casino moves."
The Dock project, at the east end of the downtown riverfront, has added a hint of urgency to a revision. Developer Todd Raufeisen has said it would take time to line up financing once a development agreement is approved, but he isn't willing to wait two years. City officials say a re-examination of RiverVision could be done in six to eight months.
"I don’t think it needs to be a big event like it was 10 years ago," Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, said. "Let everyone with a finger in that pie have their input. I don’t think it would take an inordinate amount of time."
The Downtown Davenport Partnership is among those who have an interest in RiverVision and the city's riverfront. The group's director says the Dock project is a benefit to the riverfront.
"The Partnership is very supportive of updating what has been a successful plan in RiverVision; however, we don’t want the study process to derail efforts to move forward on the Dock project as we feel it’s compatible with our vision for the riverfront," said Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership. "As pointed out in our own recent study, we hope to see the pier and/or boat dock concept take shape upon the casino moving and the suggested site for the Dock project would not impose on that potential.
"As for the future of RiverVision, we have an open mind, and we’re looking forward to listening to suggestions and adding our own as the process unfolds."
Boom and Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, who raised the issue of a new look at RiverVision during a City Council meeting, both say they aren't opposed to the Dock project but want it to fit into an overall plan for the riverfront.
"I really think for that end of the river we need to go back and see if we need to change anything before we start putting things in piecemeal," Edmond said.
Davenport hasn't veered off course, but city leaders need to consider whether a project like the Dock is a fit for the future, Boom said.
"I think we are on the right path," he said. "Something like this could fit in there, but I think it is a one-time thing."