As a St. Ambrose alumnus and Gaines Street neighbor just three houses south of Central Park Avenue, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba shares a unique perspective on the university.

Clearly his politics and social conscience were informed by the university where he earned a political science degree in the early 1960s.

Gluba wouldn’t be Gluba without St. Ambrose.

And we’d posture that St. Ambrose would not be the university it is without Gluba.

So we’re stumped by the mayor’s veto of his university’s stadium plan.

Gluba used his first veto in seven years to stop the stadium, inexplicably claiming to be stopping corporate intrusion. “I believe as mayor I must put neighborhoods ahead of private corporations and that's what I'm doing tonight by vetoing this rezoning proposal."

St. Ambrose is not corporate-backed lobbying firm, Hobby Lobby or the other entities granted a form of citizenship by recent Supreme Court decisions.

St. Ambrose is a neighbor, whose presence – along with Assumption High School and the Diocese of Davenport -- created, nurtured and protected Gluba’s neighborhood. We’ve not forgotten Ambrose activists’ role in the 1970s stopping the mid-city expressway that would have cut Davenport in half from Centennial Bridge, through St. Vincent’s property to Interstate 80.

We empathize with neighbors’ resistance to change, but remain confident that change is coming to the St. Vincent’s property one way or another. St. Ambrose’s plan for change seems carefully thought out to impose less of an intrusion than the other six high school and college stadiums coexisting nicely with Q-C residential neighborhoods.

Ambrose is committed to growth, that’s for sure. If successful, Gluba’s defense of his own neighborhood assures the school will be looking to grow next to someone else’s neighborhood.

With this veto, Gluba has created a problem for his city, his alma mater, Assumption High School and other neighborhoods adjacent to this growing university.

That’s not the kind of leadership we’ve experienced and expected from the mayor.

(17) comments

esaukc
esaukc

why does the city of davenport alderman and mayor allow other business (not SAU) to operate in the wrong zoning area but then GLUBA says no to SAU to put the stadium up in the same residential zoning area ? Davenport leadership has proven so inept and it pathetic.

breezenbye

Way to go Bil! There are plenty of places SAU could put the stadium. Why give up some of our green space. Also Coe College is in a high crime / drug area of Cedar Rapids. I lived up there and all you had to do was drive down 1st St. and watch.

Shoreline

I have not studied the situation at hand. It seems to me that the selected area, although a highly attractive area, has limited expansion possibilities and will contribute to city traffic and congestion.

Consider Brady Street Stadium, although it is a nice stadium, it has very limited expansion possibilities, often poor or insufficient parking, and it contributes to traffic on a major thoroughfare.

Even St. Ambrose itself is "locked in" to a large extent, infringing on neighborhoods to accommodate its growth and contributing to traffic congestion in an area that is bad anyway.

Traffic and congestion detracts from our quality of life, and sacrificing an urban natural or wooded area seems too steep of a price to pay for reduced quality of life. Hey, I don't like parking lots, either, feeling that they are poorly designed from the perspective of retaining some aspect of "natural" spaces for our enjoyment.

Regardless of zoning regulations, neighbors, and politicians, I would build the stadium in outlying areas if possible. I would retain aspects of our natural environment to a large extent, avoiding the seemingly overwhelming human urge to bulldoze.

On the other hand, St. Ambrose has a favorable impact on our community. The selected area for the stadium is a logical one, convenient for students of both St. Ambrose and Assumption. Great efforts have been made by St. Ambrose to accommodate the concerns of area residents, to make the stadium minimally intrusive.

To me, for the well being of the students is a powerful argument. My children have gone to West, where the athletic facilities pail in comparison to many other schools that we travel to for athletic competitions. Kids need athletics. They need athletics that all kids can participate in, and they need good places to do it. Our local public schools are under-funded in this regard.

The mayor's veto, with such brief explanation, is difficult to understand. It will be interesting to see what the city council does.

ScottD

To put it mildly, it is very disappointing how City leaders handled the SAU stadium project. Weather it is located at St. Vincent’s, in Centennial Park, South of Locust, or by I-80, it is a project SAU needs to get done for its survival and to the City’s benefit.

City leaders should have facilitated its completion instead of thwarting it by a lack of involvement in crafting the project during early phases. After all, many neighbors opposed to the site, expressed support for SAU building an athletic complex. I am not trying to diminish the difficulty garnering consensus on site selection, but I do not see where the City leaders made any attempt to reach common ground to get things done.

Essentially, the Mayor and the City Council showed extremely poor leadership, little planning and a lack of collaboration with a vital economic contributor to the City and squandered an opportunity that most municipalities would not let slip away. Once SAU expressed an interest in developing that property for a sports complex, City leaders should have been actively partnering with SAU on the design of the facility, the site selection, and building consensus in the community.

Instead City leaders sat on the sidelines and let St. Ambrose and City staff waste precious resources, as a great deal of time and money was spent on the design and review of the project. It also allowed what should have been a well anticipated amenity for the City and source of economic activity, become a divisive issue.

If the Mayor and Council were not going to support the project, especially as vocal opposition developed among some of the neighbors, then City leaders should have taken a more active role working with SAU to work on alternatives that could be achieved. Though perhaps well intentioned and with some merit, last minute, slapdash proposals like the riverfront stadium, do not qualify as effective collaboration and planning.

We need the mayor and the City council to be results-oriented and proactive to get projects that benefit the City accomplished. I fear this whole debacle will make future employers and developers hesitate to locate or expand in Davenport. It demonstrates a City leadership that lacks initiative, cooperation among its members and stakeholders, and even projects indifference toward higher education at a time when skilled workers and strong educational and cultural institutions are critical to retaining existing employers and attracting new ones.

TruthOnlyBeTold
TruthOnlyBeTold

Very well put.

Glen Armil

I do not understand how it is the city's responsibility to develop plans for a private corporation - which SAU is. SAU was utterly determined, and naively arrogant to believe that they would get away with shoe horning this project into the middle of a residential neighborhood. The absolute arrogance, disdain, and attitude of pure dismissal that Mike Poster has demonstrated toward the neighbors during this process has, done such a disservice to relations between SAU and surrounding communities that I fear may never be repaired. Simply put - SAU cheated. They gerrymandered the dimensions of the PID to eliminate residents that would have allowed the neighbors to reach a 20% threshold and required a supermajority 8-2 city council vote to approve. Crikey. SAU should be glad they got a chance at 7-3. Simply put - SAU tried to rig the game, and got busted doing it. I do hope they get to build the facility they dream of. Somewhere else. Without trying to rig the game and then cry as if they are going to literally go under and fail without a football stadium. Its comical after a while. At the rate they're buying up property - I'd say they have money to burn.

sundance

Cranky, old NIMBY.

Mommad1
Mommad1

People !!! Pay attention!!! I would have expected Saint Ambrose to address the building of this Stadium with honesty and truthfulness, which is what the neighbors did NOT get!!! From the very beginning (5 yrs ago) SAU used every cheating and devious way possible to put this plan together. In other words they set this up behind closed doors, with regard to the neighbors, to fail from the very beginning--!!
Cranky!!! You bet, you would be too!!!! Take those blinders off!!!
Evidently you support cheating to get what you want

Zieke

How does that guy sleep at night???

kc6689

Very well written and reasoned article. Appreciate your thoughtful characterization of these events.

Tyler Guth

St. Ambrose absolutely is a private corporation, regardless of whether it looks superficially shady to you in light of recent supreme court cases, which is all a total red herring by the way, except for the fact that, again, SAU is a private corporation.

I'm surprised, given their consistent choosing of the low road to zoning in this matter, that you give the college even that credit, in fact, and totally fail to address that core point of the mayor's argument- that St. Ambrose chose a cheap and dishonest approach to bringing about a favorable zoning change ruling, and that should not be allowed to be misconstrued as any kind of precedent.

Given his history of activism and his alma mater, this was probably a really difficult decision to make, and one probably not taken as lightly you seem to assume, and your failure to engage literally any of his arguments is troubling.

And which college stadiums are you thinking of that coexist with nice residential neighborhoods? Augustana would be the only one, and that's something of a stretch on many fronts.

Usually your editorials are really well thought out, but this seems like a response that could have been written before the mayor's relatively thoughtful letter was even released.

dallonc

"And which college stadiums are you thinking of that coexist with nice residential neighborhoods? Augustana would be the only one, and that's something of a stretch on many fronts."

Coe College in Cedar Rapids
Loras College and University of Dubuque in Dubuque
Luther College in Decorah
University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls
Wartburg College in Waverly
St. Norbert's College in DePere, WI
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Carthage College in Kenosha (which is actually in the nicest part of that town)

I've either visited or refereed at all of these locations. Every single one of them has a thriving neighborhood. I could go on, but I don't need to make your "argument" look any more foolish than it already is.

Glen Armil

It only takes one stretch to cast doubt on the rest of your listings. As a UNI grad - if you think the Unidome is somehow nestled in a residential neighborhood comparable to what SAU is driving to accomplish - you're incredibly delusional. The UniDome is bordered by the UNI campus on the east and acres upon acres of farmland on the west and north, and by typical college slum housing on the south. good grief.

Glen Armil

One of the few thoughtful, and informed responses I have read here. Thank you.

Tyler Guth

St. Ambrose absolutely is a private corporation, regardless of whether it looks superficially shady to you in light of recent supreme court cases, which is all a total red herring by the way, except for the fact that, again, SAU is a private corporation.

I'm surprised, given their consistent choosing of the low road to zoning in this matter, that you give the college even that credit, in fact, and totally fail to address that core point of the mayor's argument- that St. Ambrose chose a cheap and dishonest approach to bringing about a favorable zoning change ruling, and that should not be allowed to be misconstrued as any kind of precedent.

Given his history of activism and his alma mater, this was probably a really difficult decision to make, and one probably not taken as lightly you seem to assume, and your failure to engage literally any of his arguments is troubling.

And which college stadiums are you thinking of that coexist with nice residential neighborhoods? Augie would be the only one, and that's something of a stretch on many fronts.

Usually your editorials are really well thought out, but this seems like a knee-jerk response that could have been written before the mayor's relatively thoughtful letter was even released.

Style

If Ambrose is so great, then let them lower their tuition for adults returning to school. Vague comments about financial aid have not opened the door for such people. But the door is wide open for Ambrose accepting corporate money to sponsor adult students. I reckon revenue is what it's all about. So that they can build football stadiums.

pboyd

I was very impressed with the job Mr Gluba has done as mayor. Right up until this week. The veto appears only to serve his own self interests. this is not about a corporation forcing its will on a neighborhood. That could have been done with out going through the zoning process. But as a resident of the neighborhood Mr Gluba serves his own self interests. The dock decision is a smokescreen. He knows that it passed 10-0 by the council and will be overridden. The St Vincents project did not have the votes to override a veto and Gluba knew that. If he planned on running again he knew this would be a big hurdle to overcome. So he gets to bite the hand that fed him. and keep this project way from his own home.

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