Livability award comes to the Q-C
Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn and Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert attend a party to celebrate the selection of Davenport and Rock Island as the most livable small cities in America. (Jeff Cook/Quad-City Times)

A muggy but festive John O’Donnell Stadium served as the backdrop Wednesday to a ceremonial presentation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors livability award that went jointly to Davenport and Rock Island.

The cities beat out more than 200 others in the small-city (less than 100,000 population) category. The judging panel based the award on the work the two municipalities have done on their RiverVision plan to bring new parks, recreational opportunities, boat docks, ferries and other development to the banks of the Mississippi River.

Jocelyn Bogen of the U.S. Conference of Mayors was on hand to present the crystal trophy to mayors Ed Winborn of Davenport and Mark Schwiebert of Rock Island. Bogen said she was impressed by the city’s application but even more impressed at seeing the riverfront in person from her vantage point near the pitcher’s mound of the downtown Davenport baseball stadium.

“It’s one thing to see plans on paper and another to see it live,” she said. “The development on both sides of the river says a lot about the partnership between the cities. It’s a testament that other cities can see and strive for.”

Winborn said he hopes the award helps keep the momentum going to implement the challenging elements of RiverVision. Too often, area residents take their community for granted. he said.

“We are here to celebrate what we already know, that we are the most livable place to live, to work and to raise a family,” he said. “Now, we can share that knowledge with the rest of the country.”

Schwiebert pointed over the center field fence toward the Rock Island skyline and asked those in attendance — a mix of city and local officials, baseball fans on hand to see the Swing of the Quad-Cities game and a gaggle of news media representatives — to imagine ferryboats plying the waters and people crowding riverfront parks.

“We see the RiverVision process as a way to tap into the resource that lies just outside the fence here,” he said. “The Rock Island and Davenport riverfronts are the oldest portion of the Quad-Cities and represent its historical heart.”

The livability award was announced in June at the conference of mayors meeting in Los Angeles. It is sponsored by Waste Management, a national trash and recycling service provider.

“This is an excellent demonstration of bistate cooperation,” said Barbara Nussa, director of public sector services for Waste Management, who was on hand for the award ceremony. “RiverVision is clearly the product of enormous perseverance and teamwork.”

Tory Brecht can be contacted at (563) 383-2329 or tbrecht@qctimes.com.

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