Davenport chooses design firm for new riverfront park

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Soon, the City of Davenport will have an idea of what to expect from a project years in the making.

Depending on who you ask, plans to develop the riverfront started six years ago, or almost 20. Either way, the council made some progress on turning those plans into reality Wednesday, June 22nd.

“This is the ultimate feature that we want to see there,” said city council member Kyle Gripp. “And you’re going to see our riverfront is going to have this kind of shining star on it.”

The shining star in question is a 6-million dollar American Rescue Plan funded park called “Destination Play Area”. The city hopes the project will turn a field off of River Drive, between Perry Street and Brady Street, into a destination for Davenport families.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the council voted 8-2 to contract Sasaki Associates of Colorado to design the project, chosen from a dozen international firms.

“We’re really happy with Sasaki,” said Gripp. “They’re an internationally known firm. They’ve done riverfront parks specifically, they’ve done parks that are built to be flood resilient.”

The project was put on hold after a levee break flooded downtown Davenport in 2019, as the council spent two years developing a flood plan with Cedar Rapids-based engineering firm H.R. Green, which Gripp says is now a part of Sasaki’s design team.

Besides flooding, there are some other concerns that council members raised about the location.

“I still have too many questions with the railroad,” said council member Ben Jobgen. “I think there are still issues with access that may come up, from a public safety standpoint.”

Other council members also raised questions, asking if this was the best use of ARPA funds, and they want to stay strictly in budget. Still, the council voted to see what answers Sasaki Inc. can design, a tentative step forward.

“The most iconic part probably of the city is our riverfront,” said council member Marion Meginnis. “There’s not too many cities that have that, you know, on their edge. So it’s exciting to see something finally starting to happen.”

At the time of writing, Sasaki Inc. wanted to refrain from commenting as they continue negotiations with the city.

The Destination Play Area is part of the wider Main Street Landing development, which so far has update some parking lots and added Quinlan Court to the riverfront.

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