Dan Gluba's vision
Dan Gluba's vision for the Davenport riverfront includes a harbor and beach between the Centennial and Crescent bridges. Contributed photo

This kind of smart, creative thinking could get a guy in big trouble around here.

It was brave to put himself out there.

Dan Gluba (Yes, one of the mayor’s kids) has a huge idea that’s worth looking at. And it would be especially helpful if some of us could do so without instantly crabbing about bridges-to-nowhere and the insanity of free college tuition.

This has nothing to do with that stuff, OK? OK. Lecture over.

Gluba is a 27-year-old recent graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and, fortunately for us, didn’t go off to college and forget about his old hometown of Davenport.

“All of my life, I’ve thought about what might go down on the Davenport levee,” he said Friday.

So, he did some research. What evolved was a specific design — a concept for a public harbor that would put Quad-Citians on and into the Mississippi River. The plan includes — please hold your applause until the end — a public beach.

We’re talking sand and everything. And you wouldn’t have to first prove you could swim the English Channel, because Gluba’s idea is to create a lake on the riverfront, which would largely eliminate our deadly current.

As a devoted boater, he realized long ago that he and his buddies are indulging in a luxury that is foreign to most non-boaters when they pull up to Kay Island or Princeton Beach. He also realized a shortage of public docks for boaters on the move.

With a couple of exceptions that are hardly worth noting, there is no place on the Mississippi River here where a person would dare to enter the water. For most of us, the enjoyment is purely in the views. And that’s cool.

But Gluba wants to crank it up a notch. He wants to dig out the old landfill at Marquette Street and relocate the fill to the shoreline, building a new floodwall about 20 feet out from the current water’s edge.

“It’s taking existing earth and returning it to what it used to be,” he said of the plan. “I look at this as a positive change.”

The area he’s proposing for the harbor, beach and above-the-floodplain commercial spot — between Marquette Street and the Crescent Bridge — used to be occupied by a couple of islands, anyway. And it’s not as if we’d be putting a bunch of garbage from the old dump into the river.

“It was a fire landfill for years,” he said. “There should be nothing but ash and bottles and brick pavers left. Some of it, like any steel, could be recycled. Some historians might enjoy going through the old bottles.”

And how does Gluba know this stuff?

“Just a little bit of research, going to the library and talking to people,” he said.

His dad, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, pointed out his son wasn’t paid a dime for his elaborate work, research and ideas.

“To hire that done would’ve cost a fortune,” he said of the designs his son presented last week to the Davenport Levee Commission. “Practically speaking, if we were to do something like this, we’d need a consulting engineer and so on, but he wanted to put his concept out there.”

Dan Gluba said it’s possible to advance his concept from a PowerPoint presentation to sand and swimming suits.

“We have enough quarries and equipment to get the job done,” he said. “It’s just whether we’d have the funding. It would take about a year, and we have the fill right there.”

Is it a perfect plan? Of course not. If it was perfect, everyone would instantly love and embrace it, and it would yield huge profits and mysteriously prevent future flooding throughout the city. But it is a cool, creative idea that was generously offered up by someone who cares about his hometown.

Sadly, that may be the part that irritates some people most.

Barb Ickes can be contacted at (563) 383-2316 or bickes@qctimes.com.

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