Davenport Planning Application for Destination Iowa Tourism Grant for New Waterfront Park | Local News

Davenport plans to apply for a state tourism grant program for a new $20 million waterfront park project leveraging settlement funds from ARPA and the railroads, state staff said Tuesday. the town of aldermen.

City officials bill the project, dubbed Main Street Landing, as a big “wow factor” to attract more visitors to downtown Davenport and create a quality of life for current residents.

The area, located in what is currently a grassy expanse near the Skybridge, would include what the city has called an “Adventure Play and Experience Zone” destination. This project is currently under public comment for a design.

The application would also include a pedestrian overpass; railway intersection improvements for Marquette Street “quiet zones” in Mound; improvement of the river promenade; and new restrooms, according to city staff’s presentation on Tuesday.

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“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mayor Mike Matson said.

City of Davenport staff prepare the application for submission to the Destination Iowa grant program.

Administered by the state’s Department of Economic Development and funded by $100 million in federal pandemic relief funds, the program is designed to attract visitors and new residents to Hawkeye State.

The grant, if Davenport wins the funds, would cover 40% of the $20 million project, or $8 million.

The city would pay the remaining 60%, or $12 million, with a combination of $6 million in U.S. federal bailout dollars and an additional $6 million the city settled with Canadian Rail. Peaceful. Railroad money only reaches Davenport if a federal agency approves its merger with another railroad.

Grant applications are due September 30. City staff said they expect to have a high-level concept for city council to vote on in the second cycle in September. If the council votes in favour, the city will submit the nomination, city administrator Corri Spiegel said.

However, she said the city made it clear to the Iowa Economic Development Authority that the railroad settlement funds were contingent on merger approval.

Spiegel added that if the merger does not go through, staff would revise the scope of the project and not ask council to approve funds from the city budget to fill the void left by settlement funds.

“If something happens to DC to change that, we’ll review,” Spiegel said. “We’re not going to come back to you and say ‘now you have to fill this hole.’ It wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”

Judith Lee, Ward 8, and Rick Dunn, Ward 1, emphasized that the city must have a plan to maintain Main Street Landing in the future.

Spiegel said she and staff are already having maintenance discussions and will have a plan to present to the board to partner with Main Street Landing designs.

Spiegel said the Figge Art Museum is bidding for Destination Iowa Grant money to create a light art exhibit outside the Figge building.

Le Figge is set to raise 60% of the cost of his project — which is what the Destination Iowa grant requires — and would pair his bid with Davenport’s for efficiency and to make the bid more attractive to fund.

Spiegel said two other community projects have also approached the city for partnership on Destination Iowa funds — one of them being First Bridge, a pedestrian bridge crossing River Drive near the R. Richard Bittner YMCA. But, Spiegel said to the city’s knowledge, the First Bridge project had not reached the funding threshold.

What could Main Street Landing look like?

Davenport contracted with Sasaki, Inc. to design Main Street Landing. The city has set aside $6 million in U.S. bailout funding to complete the park, which Davenport officials hope will become a regional destination.

Sasaki and the city held forums at the Davenport Sky Bridge and the Freighthouse Farmer’s Market to gather feedback. Residents can also comment through a online survey until it closes on September 8.

If the survey is any indication, Sasaki plans to draw inspiration from elements from other regional parks around the country. The survey asks whether residents think the park should be more urban – with lots of bright colors and structures – or more natural, incorporating wooden features and natural spaces.

These parks include Cincinatti Ohio’s Smale Park, a waterfront park designed to withstand frequent flooding; Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park; Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha; and Martin’s Park in Boston.

Davenport is taking a tentative step forward with a plan for a riverside “destination playground,” using $6 million in federal COVID-19 dollars.


The survey asks residents what they would like to see in a waterfront development using photos from these other regional parks, including:

  • rounds of play
  • picnic areas
  • slides
  • escalation
  • space to run
  • sensory play items, such as musical instruments
  • gardens and nature trails
  • oscillations
  • water features
  • integrated lampshade
  • age separated game
  • bleachers and amphitheater
  • pedestrian bridge and elevated views
  • an ice skate loop

One comparison park in particular has flood conditions similar to the flood-prone downtown Davenport Riverfront – Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This park includes a dining and pleasure building, an open plaza with a water feature, a green boulevard along the river, a continuous riverside promenade with swings and built-in shade, and an art garden and of interactive sculptures.

Main Street Landing Site

Images of the Mississippi River, top, and the Davenport Skybridge, bottom, show the proposed development site for the destination playground at Main Street Landing.


Play elements include interactive music play elements, exercise equipment, climbing and slide slopes, log climber, rope bridge, and interactive water elements.

The survey asks which of these items the investigators believe are suitable for Main Street Landing.

Another comparison park, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, is a brightly colored urban park of hillside slides and bridges, with an ice-skating loop, bridge towers, woodland garden, and topographical lawn. with hills.

In Boston, Martin’s Park features more play structures and bright colors, including a rope climber, a hillside slide, a themed playground, and a bridge.

In Omaha, the Gene Leahy Mall offers large climbing structures, a picnic area, a nature trail, swings, an interactive water feature, and geometric landforms.

Fight or sink? The survey asks to incorporate the river, the railway as educational elements

Fight it or embrace it? That’s the question Davenport asks about whether to incorporate the railway line and fluctuating levels of the river as themes for the new park.

“While some people find the railway noisy and disruptive, others (especially children) are fascinated by passing trains. The design could block out views and noise from the railway or incorporate the railway as a theme,” says a poll question.

The survey also asks how residents think the park should approach the concept of fluctuating water levels and flooding on the river. Should it include educational signs and elevation markers to show past flood levels? Or focus on other elements?