Monday, November 27, 2006

So when did things go wrong????


Spent the weekend with some friends, and the discussion of Davenport came up. After a few beers, a good friend asked a very good question. When or why did things go wrong? Specifically the discussion centered on the lack of progress in Davenport, it’s downtown and the economic progress (or lack thereof) these last two years.

Think back to the early 2000-2003 period. Those councils doubled the budgets for street and sewer projects, actually hired extra environmental inspectors to help central city Davenport as well as collaborated with the private sector to bring River Renaissance forward. Think about it, a countywide vote said yes to spend millions in downtown Davenport. By late 2003, I had friends in Cedar Rapids pointing to Davenport with envy.

During that same time period, you had major commercial developments in NE & NW Davenport, the re-use of four-decade-old “vacant industrial site” in downtown and all signs pointing to a strong economic up swing.

But things have changed. What the Quad City Times calls “bumps”, my local friends call a complete collapse; especially the relationship between the private sector and city hall. A few others point to the frustration with Quad City Development and a few “selected” aldermen. Others blame the “anti-Davenport folks” and or the lack of strong leadership from the Davenport One board of directors.

I enjoyed the dialogue, and thought I would extend the question or premise here. In 2003, it appeared Davenport, it’s council and business/union groups where all heading on a unified front to move forward. That “momentum” appears to have hit a brick wall.

Chime in, and provide a viewpoint. I will share mine later in the post.

George

21 Comments:

At November 27, 2006 3:30 PM, Blogger BlueDeviliowa said...

Since 2003 there have been three things happen which have looked bad for progress:
1. Several small business people got all cranked up about the wastewater/stormwater fee, and D-1 and others attacked the last council for it, in namecalling and threats, etc. Never mind that we were the last one to adopt one, and had a less expensive one, etc. We were "liars." It was ugly, but the fee was necessary.
2. Six micromanaging aldermen tried to slander our city administrator into quitting, and the media joined the mob. It was ugly,by people who think they can CEO 950 employees and a $170,000,000 budget although none of them have ever had a real job.
3. Many of the River Ren. projects seem to not be succeeding, able to maintain themselves, and the Rhythm City people have abandoned the Blackhawk, and without it, the River Center is dark.

On the other hand, there are signs of success and progress all around. Lofts, Adler, skate park, branch library, new CAT applications, VanderVeer, St. Ambrose, police building, etc.

Davenport is so much the leader in the QC. What is going on anywhere else?
So what are your arguments for failure?

 
At November 27, 2006 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 73% vote for River Ren. was not a normal election. It was scheduled before the general election so that the number of voters could be controled. Just like they tried to do for the Vote for 4 issue. The only problem there was the people were up in arms about that issue. Publicity was against them.

In the River Ren. debate only Niky Bowles tried to stop it. Check the number of voters that voted for River Ren.

If they would put up for public vote the next phase of River Vision I do not think it would fair as well.

Find out how much money was spent by D1 for River Ren. and compare that against what Niky and company spent. A lot of difference.

Just so a few builders could make millions on the back of citizens.

Six Alderman who are micro managing are doing more good for the people than most might believe. It is good to see that Barnhill has finally gotten some smarts. It is Brooke, Howard, Frink, and Dumas who need to get some smarts.

When the boat leaves downtown, and it will have to so they can survive, what will downtown Davenport revert to?

RME, Bridge to Nowhere, Figge and maybe even the Adler are in trouble. What next? The River Center North and South?

 
At November 27, 2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BlueDevil, you're full of shit. D1 doesn't do anything without the approval of the huge building contractors and landowners who dominate its activities. You think the mom and pop stores complaining got D1 to move on the storm water? Guess again.

How can you call the adler, the skate park and the others a success? They've just opened. That's like calling the RME a success after its first month. Look at what a disaster that is. And the police dept? A success? It's not even done! Only Mayor Charlie himself could believe that dreck.

 
At November 27, 2006 5:30 PM, Blogger cruiser said...

Yeah, the stormwater fee that went for street sweepers was needed. They did lie about, it never was nor is it now mandated. Just because other cities have it doesn't make it right. And if the Adler is such a success how come they couldn't sell more than 200 concert tickets for a venue that has 2,000 seats. This council needs to get a backbone soon or it will get worse.

 
At November 27, 2006 5:52 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I completely disagree that the momentum has stopped. It has slowed down, but Davenport's residents wanted it to slow down a little, or take a pause. RiverVision is still moving along, and small projects are still being announced fairly often.

I think downtown is doing pretty damn well right now.

 
At November 27, 2006 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The downtown will never be what it once was because it thrived on retail, Petersons, Sears, Walgreens, etc. Retail will not be interested in investing in a downtown until the bums and hookers are driven out. A vibrant downtown thrives on businesses that remain open after 5:00pm. Hell we can't even keep the library open after 5:00. We have the most renowned chiropractic school in the world a few blocks from the library and the students can't even use it at night. We need to attract the Starbucks, the Barnes and Nobles, Granite City, and the like to invest in the downtown, but we can't do that with parking meters and over priced ramps.

 
At November 27, 2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our problem is a lack of support for long term vision. The D One crowd is as guilty or guiltier then the rest of us. They are the ones who sit on the failing project's boards. They are in charge. I am tired of the againsters being blamed for the problems, when the againsters really have little power. The "for it" folks need to take responsibility for the failing projects and they need to make a long term plan at the beginning of the ideas , not when it is too late.

Also, the development crowd and city staff (that means you Clayton) need to have more of a vision. They seem to go after any development for the sake of development. That mentality has landed us those too many low income housing projects that take our tax base away. Clue to the wise, tax exempt status and a high level of poverty costs this city money. We need to plan better.

 
At November 27, 2006 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are a big dumping ground for poverty and crime. Look at our famous attractions, the many slum properties, the low income housing projects, the homeless Hilton and the many social servies that we have to offer the poorest of the poor. Look in the QC Times and see people whoa re without jobs coming here to :start a new lie; - lucky us fo rhaving to then support you and your new life. Stop the influx of charity and we will prosper. Crime is a huge problem. Duh.Gee, I wonder why people don't come to live in Davenport? Hummmm - what could it be????????

 
At November 28, 2006 6:05 AM, Blogger The Colonel said...

For what it’s worth, from my view point the momentum has indeed slowed. The when’s and why’s are numerous. But the core reasons are simplistic. First, Davenport One is not nor has never been the end all. Too many folks give them lots of credit and too much blame. From my perspective, their board of directors could have a stiffer back bone, roll up the sleeves and get a little dirty. It’s easy to push for capital projects and quality of life amenities. But give me a private sector group of business professionals that can assist the public sector in the struggles of revenues and expenses; especially in an older Midwestern city with Iowa’s property tax system, and we could have some hope. The challenges facing a community like Davenport are numerous, and there is a great deal of heavy lifting to do.

Secondly, the city council is border line inept. The business sector views Davenport’s government as a very difficult entity to deal with. A two year decline in building permits and rezoning cases illustrate folks are choosing to invest elsewhere. I am told by many, the primary reason is the inability of the council/government to be responsive. Broken promises and a side show of irrelevant characters make Davenport a difficult place to do business. Bottom line, there easier communities to invest and grow your business in other then Davenport!

All of this is correctable. The “againsters” and crime have nothing to do with Davenports current problems. Four year terms, the storm water utility or automated cameras have nothing to do with how strong our community can be. It’s all about leadership. And the Davenport City Council has none. And our largest private sector business group needs to start showing some.

Have a good day - George

 
At November 28, 2006 11:50 AM, Anonymous Farm Boy said...

I read with great interest how we want to spend the public's money, but few investors from the private sector have come forward to invest on the river front.

Now we see that another study on the failed freighthouse has been done. When will we learn? If Happy Joes can not make a go of the freighthouse who can? I look behind the wall and see Happy Joes trying to recoup money by having the City of Davenport pay rent for a building they own.

Talk about DavenportONE. They had the city do all kinds of things to the Union Station so they could rent the property back in the early 1990's. They stopped the inclusion of a cafe on the lower level because the smell would go up to their area. Who ever agreed to the deal did not get a lease to keep them for a period of time so that Davenport could earn a payback. Then, they moved to the Putnam Building. Who was behind that and why did the City lose out after they spent over a million dollars renovating that place? We farm boys have a term. Davenport is sucking the hind one!!!

 
At November 28, 2006 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Secondly, the city council is border line inept."

Amen

We had at least one alderman (Lynn) crying to sell the 53rd and Eastern property to help balance the budget back a couple years ago (stupid idea). He went on and on how it was costing the city so much money to hold on to, but when it was the right time to sell it (and for the appraised price), he votes AGAINST it!! The 5 or 6 members on this council are SO fickle!!

 
At November 28, 2006 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can continue to blame a lot of individual or groups for Davenport's problems. However, as long as the good paying jobs and plenty of them are not settling in Davenport, the current taxpayers of Davenport will continue to have to make this city survive. It is time to stop the amenities and concentrate on necessities. The City of Davenport needs to concentrate on city business and stay out of private enterprises. If D1 has so many good ideas on how to improve Davenport, then they should be working with their membership. They have the opportunity to know who should or could be interested in a private enterprise buisess, and who is able to make financial investments.

 
At November 28, 2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put, Anon 1:03. That says it all.

 
At November 28, 2006 4:03 PM, Blogger BlueDeviliowa said...

conspiracy theorists must breed fast--every amenity has had promise and some are succeeding--all have been passed by a majority of the council--yes, Davenport is a difficult place to deal with the city government, but we still have more going for us than any other city here--you Againsters are the dark siders, spewing your poisons--move to Bettendorf, they love to live off our energy, from their very beginning and continuing, and you're helping them

 
At November 28, 2006 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first poster's signs of success are a very interesting collection. I thought about each one and agree that four are successful. The branch library, St. Ambrose, the Police Department building and VandeVeer Park. Each is successful for unique reasons but the one thing they have in common is they house purposes that really matter to people living in Davenport. Us, not tourists. They matter to our everyday lives. They are used everyday. They aren't attractions as the FIGGE and RME are marketed to be. They aren't diversions or weekend destinations. These four deliver essential services.

The library is about learning and functions as a community gathering spot for anyone. The numbers reported on attendance and the schedule of varied events is impressive. While I also believe the reduced hours of the downtown library are directly caused by opening the branch I can't begrudge folks living on the West side for having a beautiful new library and using it. I begrudge the city council and administrator for not giving higher priority in the annual budget to fully staff both locations during longer hours. The libraries will thrive to the extent taxpayers support them.

St. Ambrose is a private enterprise. It's big business although a non-profit one. Big business just the same. It has a self perpetuating stream of future funders in its graduates. It has a large support base through its Catholic traditions. It's a niche business that tends its niche constantly. SAU is big and must work with the City but they survive and earn their clout by producing an essential product -- education. A product fundamental for a good life, a good citizen, and a good family. The campus, students and teachers are a rich resource for Davenport and the QC.

Police building. Bricks and mortar projects are no brainers. Raise a building with just a little effort put into siting and style and hear the oohs and aahs roll in. Nothing reeks success like turning over earth for a new buildling. This one symbolizes a fundamental value: safety.

VanderVeer Park. Beauty, nature, accessible outdoor space, active, open to all, community space. An essential resource and dynamic for a city. A beautiful, historice public park. Thank God the city has committed to making this a beautiful resource once again. VanderVeer's success is driven by passion. It is loved. It is cherished. By those who use it and those who work on it everyday which is the staff and Friends group and volunteers. A place that has that kind of grass roots support and daily contributions of tending will thrive.

Do the Figge, RME, skybridge, casino, or JOD satisfy fundamental needs of enough people living in Davenport? If the answer is no maybe that is why they are struggling.

 
At November 29, 2006 8:29 AM, Blogger Socialist Christian Hippie said...

I agree with the previous poster. The things they built in Davenport are the wrong things. A new art museum is neat! But it is NOT Davenport. The skybridge, well, is just a waste, AND is not Davenport. JOD was Davenport and now is a monstrosity.

You know what made Davenport? The carnival on the river, Free (or very cheap) baseball, the quirky Putnam museum, the even quirkier "Mother Goose Land". North Park Mall was great, then they took out the Carousel and the games, and they didn't put in a play area, or something unique, and now it is just a mall. A boring mall.

An amusement park on the river, that would've been Davenport! A train museum...even better, a passenger train, even if it just went around Davenport, that would be awesome! How about a bridge OVER the river? or a viewing platform that was just down from the Dam?

The RME? Was there ever an audience for "roots" music here? An audience that wasn't already being served?

Can't afford an amusement park? How about a Ferris Wheel?

I loved the gambling boats when they cruised. How about more boats on the river? A restaurant? How about a ferry? How about a boat that took three or four tours of the area? How about 19th century reenactors? How about pouring money into East Davenport?

How about saving the houses on the hillside, fixing them up and attracting bed and breakfasts?

It seems that Davenport ran away from its roots. Like it was embarrassed at being a nice, little midwestern city. It wanted to be "hip". Galena shows that embracing your past, staying true to what you are, that is HIP!

 
At November 29, 2006 7:22 PM, Anonymous Democrat pushing for development said...

It is not the Davenport City Council that is the problem. It is the Staff of the city that wags the city. They are the ones that block things before they come to the council. Some think that the inspectors were great. Well, I am one landlord that sold my property because they nit picked and did not serve any good purpose. When bad situations were reported they were not take care of. Example, I made an Alderman go with me behind the property on Heatherton Drive to show the garbage, abandon cars, rugs, furniture, etc. stored there. He reported it, but little or nothing happened. He ordered a police report and began to read it before the council about some of the serious problems in certain blocks. The chief and the Mayor came down on him. He mentioned beatings, violence, etc. He was told if he did this again that he would not be getting reports again.

He even got a church group to walk with him in the Heatherton neighborhood and highlight the problem. Few if anything was done.

Some of the people in the P and Z area only help certain developers and others get a hard time. That is why some good developments never make it to the City council.

I have been to so many city council meetings that I can not count. By in large the elected officials try to do a good job. Dan Vance, Bob Tappendorf, George Nickolas, Jim Stolley, Jack Caffery, and others. Only a few were in the pocket of some of the developers.

About the parks. Why have we cut the Zoo? So many low income people depend upon Fejervary Park, the swimming pool and the zoo. I understand that we are loosing animals and exhibits, Why/

We need to bring jobs, we need to get more mission on Rock Island Arsenal, we need John Deere to bring back production to the area, we need to support Alcoa expansion and more small companies to support the things that we already have. That is what will bring back Davenport.

Let us put on hold the development of the River Front until we know what the Boat is going to do. Their move to 80/280 intersection would be so smart. That would increase the revenue to the City of Davenport to offset costs and taxes. It will push for the development of the Westend sewer tunnel. Let us go for it. That is what Davenport needs to give us a shot in the arm. Do it quickly before the Rock Island Boat get to much of a head start on us.

If we need legislation for this, let us Democrat push our newly elected people to get a move on it.

 
At November 29, 2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You bitch about Heatherton, yet it is your beloved QCRPA landlords that own these properties. You can thank the likes of Mike Steen, or his daughter, and Wynn Hammes for the condition of this area. Why should the City waste tax dollars cleaning up after these scumlords? They should be put out of business and run out of town. All they wnat to do is blame the very same tenants that they rent to. They rent to anyone that will pay the rent because no one else will live in that neighborhood.

 
At November 29, 2006 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not the landlords that cause the problem. Try and not rent to a minority, homosexual, and etc. in Davenport. You will have a "civil rights" action against you in a blink of your eye. Then you will pay and pay. What are the landlords to do?

We have seen where they rented to a minority and they cooked a pig in the bathtub and did 7,000 dollars in damage to the property. Do you think that the landlord made that much money from the property during the entire period they had it rented?

You will find it difficult to not rent to some of these people. You can be the best Christian in the world and you will still suffer.

That is why many people are selling their rental properties. Some go to dentist like the one who had all those properties in Davenport and elsewhere. Everyone knows who he was. He did so little to his property, did not pay his billsk, etc. Why did the inspectors not put him out of business?

What about the lady whose husband was a school super run such a poor rental operation for years? She would sit on the grass to flatten it down instead of mowing it. Was that the Rental Property Association that caused that?

The way they are going now where good landlords are not inspected as often is the way to go. A lot of cities have no rental inspection and they do not have the problems that we have in Davenport.

Jim Fisher indicated today that we have 11,000 former fellons in Davenport. Why do we have so many? Is it because of the police department? Is it because of the politicians? Who is to blame? Maybe it is the liberal laws that we have passed and the liberal judges that allow crooks to be put out on bail and they do bad things all over again while they are waiting trial!!!

 
At November 30, 2006 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is called a lease my man. You have the egal right to run criminal, credit and other checks on these people. You also have the right to place conditions in your lease to kick them out if they act badly. Try it. It is called being a responnsible landlord the legal way.

 
At November 30, 2006 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 11:35. Sounds like the city got rid of another slumlord to me. Again, someone who thinks that tax dollars are to be used to run their business. I can't imagine this city going without inspections. And you can't blame the inspection department, only the inspector assigned to that area. There were quite a few good inspectors that lost their job because of a couple of bad eggs. It's like this, "the inspectors (cops)are all bad until you need their help, then they are the best thing since sliced bread". I think you oue the inspectors that lost their job an apology.

 

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