West End Future Comes Into Focus - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

West End Future Comes Into Focus

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    It's an area many say has been neglected for too long, and now Davenport city leaders are focusing on the city's West End.  They joined residents and students from the University of Iowa, who have been studying the area's issues and who have come up with some solutions, presenting those at a West End Focus open house Thursday night.
     It's something many say is overdue. Residents say we've heard a lot about development, and seen it happen, along 53rd Street and in the East Village. But the West End just hasn't gotten the positive attention they say it deserves. And that's something they say has to change.
     Fran Spencer-Smith has lived in the West End for 22 years. She says, "I love it because it's a blue collar community. And Otis Smith, who also has spent two decades there, says, "It's quiet and everybody's pretty friendly to everybody." West Enders we talked to say they love where they live. Bev Reimers says, "I grew up down here. And after we were married, we bought a house. We've been there 42 years."
    At the same time, she says, "The West End has always had a bad reputation. I don't know why." Fran Spencer-Smith agrees, saying, "You  ask anybody that doesn't live in the West End, and they'll say, oh the West End. We get it from realtors. We get it from bankers. We get it from all of the Quad Cities."    But now residents may be getting something else. A neighborhood plan coming from the University of Iowa and a Community Development Class.
     "I like it," Alderman Rick Dunn says. "I tell you, this is what it's all about. You get the people behind you, you can actually get something done." People who live here provided input at a previous meeting, then came back to hear the outcome and to see the draft plan. Reimbers says, "I think they're on the right track. I think some good ideas are gonna come out of this." Ideas like expanding the reach of the Roosevelt Community Center, making it a place of empowerment. Establishing a trails network, connecting the neighborhood to Credit Island and the Mississippi River. Redeveloping vacant lots throughout the West End, like the demolished Blackhawk Foundry. And turning Rockingham Road into a commercial center.
    Smith says, "Well I think it's good. And I think it's about time. The hardest part is getting more people to realize the west end is not a bad place. The West End is no different from any other part of the town." And while many here hope this plan drives that message home, not everyone is optimistic that it will, or that it will ever become reality. Spencer-Smith says, "I think they have a nice big plan and a nice idea. Putting it into motion, I don't think's gonna happen." But city leaders say it has to.  "It's time to reinvest back into this area of town," Dunn says. 
     Students tell us the entire plan should be on the city's website Friday. Then it goes before Planning and Zoning, and ultimately the full council.
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