Despite impassioned pleas from neighbors, the Davenport City Council voted 6-4 Wednesday night to approve St. Ambrose University's athletic complex rezoning request.

“We’ve spent four years listening and studying and designing this complex,” said Mike Poster, the university’s vice president of finance. “It’s very gratifying that we got approval tonight.”

He added that the university is committed to continue to work with neighbors surrounding the St. Vincent’s property.

Betzy McLeland, who lives on Gaines Street, said she was disappointed in the vote but said she believes that neighbors did all that they could over the last six weeks to make their case. 

"We'll continue to participate in the process," she said. "I think we owe it to the city to educate them on the important risks involved (in this project)."

Alderman Mike Matson, 7th Ward, unsuccessfully moved to table the vote until a committee could be formed to explore other location options for the project.

Alderman Jason Gordon, at large, debated whether to abstain from voting because he works for the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

"The chamber did submit a letter to us (city council) prior to when my employment started," he said.

When there is a concern about conflict of interest, he said, the city's code of conduct on conflict of interest gives guidance.

Since neither he nor the chamber stand to gain or lose anything through the vote, "the code of ethics allows me to vote this evening."

St. Ambrose is requesting that a portion of the St. Vincent’s property be rezoned from moderate density dwelling district to a planned institutional district, or PID, so it can build an athletic complex that will include a 2,500-seat football stadium and track, along with parking and other athletic fields.

There are 23 conditions — such as making sanitary storm sewer improvements — that the university must fulfill as the project moves forward.

Around 170 people packed the small council chambers Wednesday night. Those who could not fit in the room stood in the hall.

Sixty-five speakers marched up to the microphone to make a last-minute plea to aldermen.

“This complex is essential as we look to the future of St. Ambrose and its vitality,” one of the first speakers, university president Sister Joan Lescinski, told aldermen.

Many of the speakers opposed the project and, as they have at other meetings, cited concerns about traffic, noise, littering, lights and stormwater runoff.

Jim Welch, chairman of the Neighborhood Relations Council and one of the most outspoken opponents of the project, said neighbors have hired Bettendorf attorney Mike Meloy and are “willing to consider legal action to stop the university.”

Welch said a decision on legal action likely won’t be made until Mayor Bill Gluba decides whether or not to veto the ordinance.

If Gluba wants to veto it, he would have 14 days to do so via a written communication to aldermen, according to City attorney Tom Warner.

Aldermen then would have 30 days to override the veto, which would take a two-thirds majority, Warner said.

Meloy, the first speaker of the night, reiterated neighbors’ position that they are not opposed to the stadium. Instead, they disagree with the proposed location.

“Opposition to (the project), as you can see it from tonight’s turnout, grows daily,” Meloy said.

Poster said before the meeting that if the request was approved, the university would hire an architect to finalize the plan. All plans would need to be approved by Davenport city staff.

Phase I of the $25 million project would begin with the practice fields, he said.

"We would like to start in the fall, if possible, but we'll begin no later than the spring of 2015," Poster said.

The stadium would be phased in over time due to fundraising, he added. The university would like to have the field and track started in 2016. The earliest football would be played at the stadium would be in 2017, provided it is completed.

Poster told aldermen that St. Ambrose has worked with the neighbors and the city to address all the concerns about noise, safety, stormwater runoff and sewer issues during the four years it has taken to design the project.

For neighbors, he said, the stormwater situation will be better once the university completes the project.

“You have problems; we’re offering you solutions,” he said.

Davenport resident Kevin O’Brien said the university demonstrated its unwillingness to compromise with neighbors by not offering a “Plan B.”

“They’ve only offered 31 flavors or conditions of a Plan A that gives them all they want and, the neighbors, nothing that they want,” said O’Brien said.

(27) comments

kmac1036

Guess people don't like jobs or students spending money in their community. The opponents kept bringing up the same issues that were addressed long ago, esp the water runoff. SAU spent millions solving that problem on the main campus & locust st. I don't live far from the stadium. Trying to sue at this point will only drag things out. I hope if they do, it costs them a mint. If you're that concerned about traffic & noise, don't live in a corridor of main thoroughfares in a city. SAU has gone the extra mile here, whether you want to admit it or not. If people want to get too crappy about it, I'd bet donating the land to AHS & building anyway is still on the table. Brady St. Stadium stinks for parking & seating, can't wait to go see some games at the new stadium. SAU '05 Alum

kc6689

Couldn't be more pleased for St. Ambrose. I used to live in the neighborhood in question 30 years ago. Having returned to the QC area only recently, I was shocked at the improvements made around the SAU campus. This will be more of the same and the very vocal minority will grow more and more silent with time. SAU conducted itself with class, stuck to fact-based arguments, and won the day. Well done, SAU.

beman101
beman101

you can tell this city is ANTI home owner. now they will raise our property taxes again to pay for the services these crooks will need.

JeanneStK

I am a citizen who lives in the SAU neighborhood. I’m not an employee, an alum, nor do my children go to school at SAU or Assumption. But I recognize the need and benefit an athletic complex brings to a community.
I've been a neighbor of the university for over 16 years and have watched how their improvements to campus have improved my neighborhood.
I have supported this campaign because I think they are correct in saying that it will help recruit students. Not just athletes, but all students. If they can bring students in, maybe they’ll realize what a great place the Quad-Cities are to live and stay here, raise kids here, and pay taxes here.
Communities can’t continue with the status quo and hope for growth. In a time when jobs are precious and towns all around the country are suffering economic hardships, its great to see one of the anchors of our community not only employ a large number of individuals with good-paying, quality jobs, but also want to expand and add jobs.
As far as the concerns with litter, noise, storm water, and so on, SAU has addressed the issues they can solve infrastructurally. As far as the human element - noise, litter, parking on neighborhood streets - my guess is that because of all the controversy surrounding this planned rezoning, they will be certain these issues are addressed before they ever arise.
I live just off of Lombard Street, the route that hundreds of students walk daily to get to the Health Sciences building. There hasn’t been an issue with property damage or litter on this route. I realize to and from a football game is different than going to class, but these football games will happen 5-6 a year (10-12 if you include Assumption, but there will be no foot-traffic involved in those games). SAU students have to have service hours to graduate. It seems like a no-brainer that one of their requirements is that a group goes out after the game and picks up litter between the stadium and the school.
Also, if the noise from these events is what concerns people, they need to not be living in central Davenport. In the fall I can hear the sounds of Brady Street Stadium from my front porch. Fridays in the spring/summer I can hear the racetrack at the Fairgrounds as if IT is at St. Ambrose.
This isn’t going to negatively impact our neighborhood. I realize all the people whose homes are adjacent to the SVC property think this is the end of the world, because they’ve grown accustomed to having a “park” for a back yard... unfortunately, that park is owned by someone other than the neighborhood and they have a right to use that land. Just because there “always has been” doesn’t been there “always will be.” The point is if SAU’s previous developments are any indication, this is going to be a first-class facility that will improve the current infrastructure and not bring harm or depreciation to our nice, established neighborhood.
Congratulations St. Ambrose on a victory well-fought. I hope Mayor Gluba upholds the council’s decision and plans can move forward. I look forward to seeing this come to fruition.

Mod

At this point I wish SAU would withdraw their proposal, make an agreement with Assumption and let them build the facility. Then Assumption could build a 6,000 seat stadium and practice fields without any restrictions. The neighbors better be careful what they wish for.

sikofit

Did anyone from the city happen to drive down Western, beside where a chunk of sports complex besides the Sisters of Humility is, after the last rainstorm hit? Now imagine that area after it is a lot more blacktop and parking and a lot more run off.

Hope they are prepared to open their check book when this is all said and done.

credit island

So the Chamber has hired Alderman Gordon. What a joke this town is.

candy

Oh no !! What happened to my comments. I do hope they appear!!

candy

I am very happy for SAU and the Quad City Community. Good jobs won and a great investment in education that will benefit a lot of people. . It is my hope that the neighborhood fears will not be realized and they will in the future find that their properties value did not decrease but in fact increased.

dallonc

Don't let the naysayers and doom and gloom crowd scare you. Numerous examples of larger athletic complexes abound in this area that positively contribute to the area's quality of life. This is a good thing for the community, St. Ambrose, and neighborhood.

Glen Armil

you don't live anywhere near this "development," do you?

none of the people that support this do. they are either SAU alums, have kids
at SAU or are employed by SAU.

meanwhile, we citizens that live here - don't want it.

dallonc

If no one in the neighborhood supports the complex, why were there a significant number of signs in the neighborhood the last time I drove through there?

Joseph Cordogan
Joseph Cordogan

Where was the protest percentage required to force a super majority?

Glen Armil

Please quantify how this is "good for the neighborhood."

shadowcatz23

Well Glen, I guess you can look at it this way. Maybe your neighbors should be allowed to tell you, that you can't build on property that you own. All for reasons that make no sense or have been addressed. Building the stadium close to campus is so that the KIDS go to the games. Did you see the U of Iowa build a stadium across town? That is right you didn't because that would be stupid. Building more stuff along the river is dumb, since it will block the view of the water. Which is the reason Davenport doesn't build a flood wall. Or even better Ambrose would have to pay for repairs to the stadium every year as it floods. Maybe you home owners would like to pay for that. I am betting you don't want to do that either. At this point you home owners need to get a grip and see what happens.

dallonc

$25M in direct investment, hundreds of jobs, and massive improvements to the storm water systems is a nice start.

My turn - Show me an example of a neighborhood that was damaged by one of these complexes. You won't find one in the Quad Cities. Rock Island, Moline, Bettendorf, PV, and North Scott have thriving neighborhoods around their (much larger) complexes.

I'll wait for your answer. I'm guessing it will be a while.

dallonc

Shadowcatz23, people like Glen Armil are why our community will continue to struggle getting development to better our community. Other cities like Dubuque, Des Moines, and Iowa City/Cedar Rapids are much more forward looking than the Quad Cities. I can't explain it. It's like some people want the Quad Cities to fail and wither away. This is a golden opportunity for one of our universities to build the facilities needed to stay competitive for bright students who can be the future of our community. The people who will raise families, build businesses, and contribute to the tax base and quality of life in this community.

I guess none of that matters when you don't care about anything but your own selfish interests. I'm very happy that I was raised to look at the big picture and not just blindly at my own interests.

Glen Armil

where do you live?

dallonc

You are one stakeholder in the process. One stakeholder.

It doesn't matter where I live. I am a concerned community citizen who wants to see one of our institutions of higher learning have what it needs to succeed.

And as I have said NUMEROUS times, the neighborhoods around PV, Bettendorf, and North Scott are thriving with larger complexes. You apparently don't see the businesses like DHCU going up near PV's complex. Your attitude is why the rest of the community is tired of your antics. Your voice is not the only voice that matters. There is an entire community to think about. Supporters like me just happen to have the vision to see why this development is such a positive thing for the community at large.

iceandshadows

“They’ve only offered 31 flavors or conditions of a Plan A that gives them all they want and, the neighbors, nothing that they want,” said O’Brien said.

This is just so unabashedly shameful and characteristic of the lunacy that's colored the con-campaign. Yeah, the University gave the neighbors nothing, nothing at all, except for voluntarily electing to participate in this horrific process, dramatically scaling back their plans, promising to improve infrastructure, and on and on it goes. The neighbors have behaved like petulant children throughout the entire affair, who would never be satisfied with a solution other than "take a hike."

Sorry about your spilled milk, O'Brien. Grow up.

Glen Armil

You may wish to check your facts. The notion that you believe that SAU did "voluntarily elect(ing) to participate in this horrific process," demonstrates your ignorance of the process. They, being SAU, are required to go through this process by city code. If you are going to attempt to make some far flung point - you at least owe it to yourself to know what you are talking about.

dallonc

http://www.qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=684392

iceandshadows is correct on this point. A quick Google search would have solved that issue.

Glen Armil

True but not true in this case. If SAU gave all the land to Assumption, than it is true. However, they have not, nor appear to be, willing to do that. So, it is false.

Glen Armil

What has happened here, is that the city has capitulated to the desires of SAU. The aldermen and citizens that live in the affected area, are overwhelmingly against it. The people that are not affected by it, think it is a great idea, as evidenced by the council vote.
In short - the people that live in the Glen Armil addition have been told that they don't matter, that the only thing that matters is giving SAU whatever they want. I am personal friends with 3 present teachers at SAU, and a large number of retired nuns from my time at Marycrest that live in the S. of Humility Center.. None of them want this. This is the biggest sham that has been force fed to citizens that I have seen in all my life.

Joseph Cordogan
Joseph Cordogan

Seriously... SAU has been there for 130 years. Universities grow and develop. You have to know this. Can I ask, why you moved into this neighborhood in the first place, if you didn't want to live next to a university?

iceandshadows

"I am personal friends with 3 present teachers at SAU, and a large number of retired nuns from my time at Marycrest that live in the S. of Humility Center.. None of them want this."

Speaking as an extremely well-networked faculty member on campus, the level of support for the SAU stadium project is incredibly high. Either you're blowing smoke or have found the three most clueless folks on campus who apparently want their employer to go under. Bleh.

snowman05

About time! Can we scare any other possible development away?

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